Miss Heilala

Tonga beauty pageant organisers regret audience behaviour

The Nuku'alofa crowd reacted angrily last week to a speech from the former Miss Heilala, Kalo Funganitao, who condemned pageant officials for tormenting and bullying her during her reign, claiming she had been cheated, lied to, backstabbed and messed around.

Racist abuse from the audience was reportedly directed at Papua New Guinea's Miss Pacific Islands, Leoshina Mercy Kariha, who attended the event.

The Heilala Festival Committee and the Tonga Tourist Association said it was regrettable that Ms Funganitao chose to publicly air her concerns.

9 contestants to vie for Miss Heilala title

The contestants, who are aged between 19 to 23 years old come from Tonga, United States and New Zealand.

The Miss Heilala pageant is the highlight of the two-week Heilala Festival which begins on Monday, June 26.

A variety of events are scheduled with a ‘Chef of the Year’ competition opening the festivities.

Other events include Tradition and Tongan Night, Tonga’s Got Talent Quest, Cultural Dance Competition for schools, Cultural Singing Competition, Gospel services, Heilala Block Party and an International Food Festival.