By Leota Marc Membrere, Government Press. Miss Haylani Kuruppu has achieved fantastic milestones in her reign as Miss Samoa, and deserves to take a bow for a job well done.
Stepping up to take on the Miss Samoa crown is not an easy challenge, and for outgoing Miss Samoa Haylani Kuruppu, the journey has been one she will cherish for the rest of her life.
Being the first Miss Samoa to be crowned since 2019 following Seumanu Fonoifafo Nancy McFarland’s three year reign due to covid, Haylani had big shoes to fill.
The Australian born Samoan has found the experience majestic, one that would be fitting for a fairytale.
“I am so grateful to the Lord for giving me this opportunity to learn and experience. I loved every moment of it, even the sad times and all the challenges, we still have to push through, that’s all part of the plan,” Haylani said in an interview with the Government press.
Ms Kuruppu will go down in history as the first Miss Samoa to have published a book during her one-year reign.
Entitled, “Journey to Miss Samoa” it is a story of Haylani’s journey that aims to empower Samoa and Pacific youth.
As the year comes to a close and Ms Kuruppu prepares to pass on the crown to the next holder, Digicel Miss Samoa 2022-2023 says the show must go on as she looks ahead to the next chapter of her life.
Haylani vouches that it is not the end of her service to Samoa, as she prepares to head off to the Solomon Islands in a few month’s time as a member of Samoa’s national Women’s Basketball team at the Pacific Games.
Haylani says representing Samoa in national sports has been inspired former Miss Samoa Latafale Auvaa, who had represented Samoa in touch rugby.
“It is a humbling experience for me to continue to serve Samoa through basketball. It is a sport that I love and I would do anything for Samoa,” she says.
Looking ahead to the future, Ms Kuruppu will be taking all that she has learned in her journey back to Australia with her.
Her experience as a Sales and Marketing Officer for the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) has been an eye opener. Ms Kuruppu says she has learnt so much in this role that it could be a potential career path for her.
Looking into the future, the outgoing Digicel Miss Samoa says she also looks forward to having a family.
Having been born in Australia, Haylani is now determined to raise her family in Samoa.
Haylani faced a lot of cultural and religious differences growing up, with her father being a Buddhist and her mother a Christian.
Haylani has come to the decision that when she has her own family, they will be moving to Samoa, to give them the opportunity to learn the Samoan culture and language at a young age – something she did not have when she was a young girl in Australia.
Soon she will be crowning one of the 10 contestants in this year’s Digicel Miss Samoa Pageant. Her advice to the aspiring Miss Samoa contestants is to have the desire to serve, and learn as much as possible from the two weeks of the pageant.
“The pageant does not come with a handbook on how to be a Miss Samoa,” she says, “but there is a lot of knowledge and learning you can absorb from the two weeks of the pageant.”
“It’s important to have a heart to serve, you cannot enter without a desire a serve Samoa and the community.”
As for the young tamaitai Samoa that will be crowned, the reigning Miss Samoa offers a simple piece advice.
“When days are tough, show up.”
“Remember the reason you came onto the platform, gaining knowledge and skills is a must, and the Miss Samoa is a role of service and not a holiday,” says Ms Kuruppu.
Haylanni thanks God for the blessings He has given her and for the humbling experience of being a Miss Samoa.
“The only reason why I am sitting here infront of you is because of God. He has put this in my path and given me this opportunity..
“I can learn and grow after this. I have gained skills and knowledge that I can apply to the rest of my life, and even teach my kids.”
Miss Samoa Haylanni Kuruppu is thankful to all those who have supported her since day one, and the many friends she has met along the way.
The outgoing Digicel Miss Samoa is grateful for the support of her Moataa and Laulii family and friends, Samoa Stationery and Books (SSAB), the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) and Onomea Productions.
Photos: Leota Marc Membrere