“This was a once in a life time opportunity, I returned home with newly found values of appreciation and gratitude. I learned more about myself, and now have a broader understanding of the world,” says Purea.
Prior to her Miss International journey, she received an overwhelming amount of support and love, not only from her family and the Miss Cook Islands association, but also from the community.
“I received many donations, offers to assist me in specific areas I lacked in, moral support, messages of encouragement and recognition; all this given to me out of the generosity of the people’s hearts.”
Being away from home, and surrounded by a variety of cultures, Purea felt more appreciative to have been born and raised in the Cook Islands.
“Our culture draws tourists to visit our beautiful islands so I was not surprised when they (audience in Japan) were in awe of our dance and language.
She gave a small demonstration of cultural dance, “I received many compliments, people were amazed and quite stunned as they had never seen a ‘talent’ such as ours.
“I felt so lucky and privileged to come from the Cook Islands and more so, from the Pacific.
“The Kia Orana values instilled in every Cook Islander allows us to portray that spirit of warmth and love that lives in us.
“I was so humbled to able to share that spirit with the whole of Japan and 77 other countries.”
Purea also had the opportunity to meet international ambassadors, mayors, important business men and women, and was able to share stories of the Cook Islands, and speak about her own experiences.
“I explored a small portion of Japan and was able to experience their beautiful culture. Although we were very busy, we were spoilt.
“We were accommodated at 5-star hotels, assisted by chaperones and on many occasions visited important and well known sites, companies, cultural grounds, all whilst attending a beauty pageant.”
The opportunity to visit universities and schools to meet and speak to the students made her realise just how warm and welcoming Japanese people can be, she says.
The biggest challenge Purea faced in Japan was adjusting to the vigorous schedule of the pageant.
Most mornings the contestants would rise at 3am or 4am, head out the hotel door for a busy day and not returning until midnight. After their return however, another hour would pass before they received the following day’s schedule, to ensure they were aware what time to get up that morning and what to prepare.
Purea was not familiar with wearing so much make up and dressing up in the early hours of the morning, and the effort of presentation was another hurdle she had to overcome.
“As it is an international pageant, we have to present ourselves at an international level. I had to get accustomed to the amount of makeup I had to wear.’
Initially she was concerned she would not be able to fully meet the expectations the contest organisers had of her.
However, with commitment and discipline Purea completed the three-week pageant, returning home with wonderful memories that have a permanent place in her heart.
“My beautiful Cook Islands, I hope I represented you well. I was so proud to be able to share with delegates from all over the world, about our small yet beautiful country,” she says.