Meet Miss Wallis and Futuna

Eighteen-year-old Violène Blondel is looking forward to being in Papua New Guinea to represent her home, Wallis and Futuna, in the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant (MPIP).

It has been 12 years since Miss Wallis and Futuna entered the pageant.

The French Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands is in the Polynesian group of the South Pacific, nestled halfway between Tonga, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Samoas. The Territory celebrated its national day on July 29 with the staging of the Miss Wallis and Futuna Pageant.

“I am very proud to represent my islands as cultural ambassador at this year’s MPIP because it's an opportunity for me to show and promote my culture and traditions and to share them with the rest of the Pacific,” Blondel stated.

“Our cultural similarities with some of the Pacific Islands are amazing like language and traditions with Samoa and Tonga who are our ancestors, also with Tuvalu, Niue and Tahiti. This make me feel like being part of a big Pacific family - that's what I believe being a cultural ambassador is, being part of a big Pacific family.”

As one of the representatives of the Pacific’s French territories, Blondel said she wanted to share her unique heritage with other contestants and to enrich the diversity of the pageant.

“This pageant is a platform to not only promote the role of young women as mothers, farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow but it allows us to work together to agree on our expectations and our role in building the future of our region.

“We want peace in our region, sustainable development and respect of our cultures. To ensure this platform has a future, we need the support of our governments, of our business houses and all those in a position to ensure it has the resources and capacity to continue to offer us young women, an opportunity to raise awareness of our hopes for our region and for the world.”

Blondel also highlighted the significance of preserving the Wallis and Futuna traditions.

“We must place paramount importance on the status of our women as one of the advantages of enjoying isolated existence within the Pacific region is that we have continued to honour our traditions that have been passed down for generations, especially in treatment of our women, and empowering them.

“What I wish to do as a young Wallisian woman is to focus on the importance of preserving  our traditions to ensure that young men continue to respect the traditional roles for their sisters, wives and mothers; even despite the ever changing progress of development and technology.

“This is something I hold dear as a woman who plans to pursue my education in Europe. I believe that we have many of our solutions to today's problems lying at the heart of our culture and our traditions.

“On the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant platform, I want to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women in our islands and obviously around the Pacific.

“I think that, girls’ behaviour doesn't only depend on the education that families provide (which is important of course), but they are also exposed to what happens around them and I also think that internet and social media have a very important impact on them, and unfortunately not always a positive one, which contributes to their behaviour and development.

“As we move forward as a region to promote our identity, as the Pacific, it is important to celebrate the diversity in our cultures, our values and our traditions. It's not surprising to see how many of these values are shared across our different islands.”

Blondel said it was unfortunate that tourism was not developed in her islands despite the unique cultures and traditions and scenic sites.

“With the help of South Pacific Tourism Office (SPTO) we are working on bringing in more tourists and I am happy to help on this important project. I'm very excited to be part of this pageant experience and take everything that can help me on my journey and make me grow as a woman as well.”

Wallis and Futuna has set a target of 10,000 visitors a year in a new strategy to move its tourism industry forward. Last year there were 100 visitors to the island territory, which has a population of 13,000, with most of them living in the capital Mata Utu.

The Pageant Week will be hosted from November 24th-30th.

Press release