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The race is on to find New Zealand’s Miss World contender

The current reigning Miss World, Karoline Bielawska. (Photo: (Arun Sankar)

Are you an unmarried, childless woman aged between 16 and 27 who loves new adventures and raising money for charity? Ever thought about being Miss World?

If you have, pageant organiser Nigel Godfrey reckons you should have a crack at becoming New Zealand's representative at the 2024 contest. Rest assured, there's no need to parade about in your togs.

"It's about a journey for the contestants," Godfrey said.

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"We live in a world where everyone is on social media and trying to be a star. With this, you really can be one."

This weekend, Godfrey and a panel of judges will assess a minimum of 15 potential contenders for the crown in a rapid-fire selection process held in Auckland. It's an unusually fast approach to finding the national titleholder, but Godfrey said there's no time to waste.

Last Friday he got a call from 84-year-old Miss World CEO Julia Morley, urging him to organise a Kiwi entrant for the 72nd edition of the contest which takes place in Mumbai on 9 March.

"Julia rang me last Friday and said, 'are you sending someone to India?' I said, 'I don't think we can, it's just been too hard'. She said, 'how can we make it happen?'"

As well as meeting the age criteria, potential candidates must be willing and able to travel to India on 16 February. The wining Miss New Zealand will spend a month in India, where all expenses will be met by the multi-million-dollar Miss World organisation.

Godfrey, an actor and TV producer who has been involved in both the Miss Universe and Miss World franchises for more than a decade, said participating in the contest was the chance of a lifetime. Due to the tight timeframe, entry into this year's contest is free.

"This is a pretty extraordinary opportunity."

He said the modern Miss World competition, which includes a strong focus on the "Beauty with a Purpose" charitable initiative, required more from contestants than people might think.

"It's high-powered, it's not just about dressing up and going on the stage.

"A lot of people think pageants are just about going on stage and flopping your boobs out, but that's not what they are about at all. The women involved aren't stupid. Lots of them are at university, this is just another step in life."

There is no swimsuit category in the Miss World contest and Godfrey is proud of previously stripping the requirement from New Zealand's Miss Universe pageant ("why on earth would you have women parading around a stage in bikinis? That's just wrong!")

This weekend, potential contenders will receive catwalk training from a former Miss New Zealand, as well as instruction in choreography, public speaking and fitness.

The New Zealand iteration of the contest has a strong focus on entrepreneurial skills and charity. Godfrey said judges would be looking for a representative with a strong sense of political and social matters.

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