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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: University of Auckland

The winner of the Miss Cook Islands New Zealand pageant hopes to use her title to raise awareness of protecting the delicate marine environment in her island homeland.

Terito Story, 19, is in her second year of a Marine Science degree at the University of Auckland where she is refining her understanding of marine conservation.

She says winning the pageant held in October has provided a bigger platform to share her interests and raise awareness of important issues that need immediate attention.

“Our marine environment in the Cook Islands is delicate and very important to us because it is our main attraction and food source, we need to do whatever it takes to protect it,” says Terito, who is from the island of Mauke.

“The biggest threat to our environment is definitely climate change and the rise of plastic pollution in our oceans. As we are a small country with low lying islands, rising sea levels and pollution can have a major impact on our country which relies on the ocean’s resources.

“We should be taking more action as a country to fight the problem, such as including plastic free products in our everyday lives. A lot of people in the Cook Islands have already taken this initiative, such as selling food on clean banana leaves at markets to reduce the use of plastic. It’s a step in the right direction and I hope to see more of it happening soon.”

Terito grew up in and around the ocean, following her dad, a fisheries officer, out to sea where they would spearfish, plant coral and spawn clams.

Being away from home and taking part in the pageant has been a juggle for Terito. However she says the support networks for Pasifika students at the University have been amazing.

Terito will compete in the regional Miss Pacific Islands Beauty Pageant to be held in Port Moresby Papua Guinea in late November.