SA beauty with NZ crown: “Everyone should feel at home”

Henry

As a young woman and immigrant in New Zealand, Samantha Poole knows how every person longs to feel in one way or another as if they belong somewhere.

That is why it is this South African born beauty and newly crowned Miss. New Zealand’s dream to use her title to help cultivate that feeling in as many people as possible.

RNews recently reported that Samantha, or Sammi as she is called, won the Miss. New Zealand title, and according to the 21-year-old, the support from her native country has almost surpassed that of her new home.

“The messages and support from South Africans was just on a completely different level,” she tells RNews by phone from New Zealand.

Her mother, Denise Poole, received messages from friends and acquaintances from South Africa shortly after Sammi’s coronation, and the news later spread like wildfire.

“It’s unbelievable. South Africans are so passionate and patriotic; that’s one of my favorite qualities about them.”

Sammi and her younger brother emigrated with their mother, Denise, from Pretoria to Whangārei, a city in the north of New Zealand, six years ago after Denise was offered a job opportunity.

Sammi had just kicked off her high school career at Redford House College before the family packed their bags.

Although both the South African and New Zealand communities welcomed the Poole family with open arms according to Sammi, she believes that the road to “belonging” was full of twists and turns.

“Those first three years were especially the hardest. Everything is a culture shock, from the food to going to school. I had to jump to the next grade and suddenly had different types of subjects. Moreover, I didn’t want to open my mouth the first two weeks of school, because I felt like I didn’t fit in because I sounded different,” says Sammi.

“It’s as if you have to find your feet in a whole new type of world and fit in.”

Although Denise has always supported her beautiful daughter’s dreams according to Sammi, as a parent she was initially hesitant about modeling or beauty pageants.

“She has always been my biggest supporter in everything I do, but wanted me to feel strong in myself, because the industry can put young girls in particular down very easily.”

However, according to Sammi, the camera played a big role in building her self-confidence after school, so much so that she balanced her modeling work in between her university studies at the Auckland University of Technology.

In the run-up to Ms. New Zealand participated in smaller beauty contests and thus discovered her passion for community and welfare work – especially with organizations that campaign for mental health among young people.

“I didn’t realize how many challenges there are in this regard among the New Zealand youth until we came to live here ourselves,” says Sammi.

If Miss New Zealand finalist, she helped raise and donated more than NS$43 000 (nearly R480 000) to I am Hope, a non-profit organisation.

“Beauty pageants are not that big here, but interest is now starting to pick up again, and I hope people will increasingly be able to see what a workable difference we can make through it when intelligent and driven women set their minds on something.”

Crowning not without criticism for Kiwi-canadian beauty

“There are always comments and people are completely justified in their opinions,” says Sammi when asked if there was criticism among Kiwis after her victory, given that their new Miss. New Zealand is a South African by birth.

“But regardless, I love this country so much and the opportunities it has provided for me and my family. I therefore want to represent New Zealand to the best of my ability and in this way also ‘pay them back’ for their benevolence towards us.”

Moreover, she did not expect to win, and said that it “took a week” for the news to sink in properly.

“The other girls were just as incredible, and of course there are many misperceptions about such a competition. People think that the scoring system only focuses on how you look, but it’s much more about how you convey yourself and how you grow and develop in the run-up to the final. The work you do for your community and welfare organizations also carries a lot of weight,” explains Sammi.

“You can look very beautiful, but if you don’t have a beautiful heart, you won’t progress anywhere in this competition.”

Sammi will now go to Tokyo, Japan this year for the Miss International 2024 pageant and dreams of representing New Zealand at the Miss. To represent the world stage.

In addition, she wants to continue her welfare work and prove to others through her title that their personal insecurities should never crush their dreams.

She also remains proud of her South African roots and jokes that she keeps her African muscles warm for when family and friends come to visit in New Zealand.

“My mother’s home language is English, but she speaks about five languages ​​and encouraged us to learn Afrikaans because we have many relatives who speak it. These days we speak it more when we want to gossip, although there are so many South Africans here, one has to be careful,” she jokes.

“My rolling Afrikaans r’s slip out when I least expect them.”

In addition to South Africa’s pristine beauty, Sammi says that she longs to return to friends and family in her native country and makes an effort to keep in touch.

“It’s funny, when I was younger, my mother’s side of the family always said I could be Miss one day. be South Africa. It’s bittersweet, but still special that that statement came true in a different way.”