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Opening of the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant 2017.

December 6, 2017       Prince Charles Park,Nadi.

The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment, Honourable Praveen Kumar;

The Associate Minister of Tourism of the Government of Samoa, Honourable Fagaivalu Kenrick Samu;

The Executive Directors of the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant representing the various Pacific Island Countries;

Miss Pacific Islands 2016, Ms. Anne Dunn;

The Nine Beautiful Contestants representing your respective Pacific Islands Countries;

The Chairman of Miss Pacific Islands Pageant and Miss Fiji Pageant Association, Mr. Hirdesh Prasad;

The Special Administrator of the Nadi Town Council, Mr. Robin Ali;

All the Corporate Sponsors;

Distinguished Guests; and

Ladies, gentlemen, girls and boys.

Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

I am deeply honoured to join you this evening to open the 31st Miss Pacific Islands Pageant and the second to be held in Fiji.

To all our visitors who have travelled across the Pacific Ocean to be here, I thank you sincerely for your presence and your support for your respective contestants and cultural ambassadors.

I also wish to extend my appreciation to the organisers of the pageant for providing a platform for our beautiful queens to celebrate the talents, skills, intellect and beauty of the Pacific.

This is also a platform for these young women to speak on the issues that they are passionate about - issues that affect our society, our health and well-being, our children, our families, our education, our developments, our environment, our people and our livelihoods.  

These are real issues that I believe we need to discuss at regional, national and community levels.  We also need to discuss these issues in our own households because the more aware and educated we are about these issues, the more likely we are able to find opportunities to collaborate and explore solutions.

To host such a pageant, especially one of such magnitude, requires good planning, coordination, commitment and hard work.  I am sure it is no easy feat and there may have been a few if not many challenges along the way.  

But the fact that we are gathered here this evening in great numbers with our Pacific Queens representing their respective countries is testimony that there has been successful cooperation, commitment and newly forged and strengthened partnerships by all stakeholders.

In this regard, it would be remiss of me if I do not acknowledge, congratulate and thank the hardworking Organising Committee of this year’s Pacific Islands Pageant.

And that is the way of the Pacific. That is our way!  The Pacific Way.

Regardless of the challenges and our differences, we are united as a Pacific family.  This collaboration is critical for all of us especially at this very pivotal and most challenging time in our Pacific’s history. 

It is a time when we have to deal with so many modern-day challenges such as climate change and other trans-border crimes like money laundering, people smuggling, trans-national refugee migration, and illegal fishing, among others.

As people of Big Oceans States, I have every confidence that our nations can work together to strengthen our capabilities to address these issues through our support of regional events such as the Pacific Pageant where our young women could share their experiences, hopes and aspirations for a peaceful and safer Pacific.

Ladies and gentlemen, these beautiful young Pacific Pageant Queens are members of our Pacific youth who are going to be our leaders of tomorrow.

I am pleased to learn that the theme for this year’s pageant is “Climate Change, Action to Sustain Our Islands.”  It is my humble opinion that this is a most timely and apt theme.

Ladies and gentlemen, Fiji has just assumed the Presidency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP23.  

And on that note, I wish to acknowledge the collective support of the Leaders, governments, private sectors and civil society organisations throughout the Pacific towards promoting timely, proactive and decisive actions to protect our Islands from the detrimental effects of climate change.

I wish to reiterate that our Presidency of COP23 is a Pacific Presidency, and Fiji will always champion and promote our passion into ensuring that the concerns and aspirations of all Pacific Small Islands Developing States are effectively addressed through the United Nations processes.

As we take on the Presidency of COP23, over the year ahead, we would like to continue to appeal for support from all our Pacific neighbours so that together, we can form a united and strong voice within the global community.  Because of an issue as important as climate change, we cannot afford to fail in our mission. We must keep this issue atop the global agenda. We must continue to persevere.

With the Pacific’s support and cooperation, we will continue to work together, ensuring that all of the previously marginalised voices of the Pacific are heard more now than ever before.

We need to do this for the survival of our economies, our peoples, our cultures, our very own islands, and the rest of humanity.

Our presidency of COP23 proves that despite our size and our geographic isolation, we are determined and committed to climate action at a global scale.  We are willing to face and challenge much larger and more developed nations to commit to protecting our environment. 

It is therefore my plea to all of you. Not only the contestants, but also to all of you present tonight and those watching us on television: we all need to get onboard.  

We need to be sailing and paddling together on the same Vaka  (Canoe) on this global challenge. And we must leave no one behind!

Let us all not only reflect, but seriously action our theme.

Our Pacific Islands are at risk. It is not only about Pacific pride, it is about the future of the Pacific and indeed the rest of humanity.  And it is not only the action of leaders or politicians, it is the commitment of all Pacific islanders - every single individual – that will ensure the maximum outcomes of our collective efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is the first public judging for the nine beautiful contestants, so I will conclude this address by wishing them all the best and urging all Fijians and Pacific Islanders here in Fiji to join the festivities here at Prince Charles Park.  We are here to find the Pacific’s next Beauty Queen and Cultural Ambassador, so all our young ladies need your support.

To all the contestants, I wish each one of you every success, not only with the pageant, but also with your future endeavours. 

May you all represent your respective countries and the Pacific with dignity, passion and grace.

I now take great pleasure in declaring the 2017 Miss Pacific Islands Pageant officially open.

May Almighty God continue to shower His Blessings on all of us throughout the Pacific during this Festive Season.

I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Peaceful New Year.

Vinaka vakalevu and thank you!