Miss Pacific Islands, Leoshina Mercy Kariha from Papua New Guinea was crowned early this morning at the Atele Indoor Stadium in Tonga. 1 December 2018. - Photo: Miss Pacific Islands Facebook Page
The Papua New Guinean beauty queen who endured a racist insult at a Tongan beauty pageant over the weekend has thanked Tongans for their support and called for unity of Pacific people.
Miss Pacific Islands Leoshina Kariha was in Nuku'alofa on Friday for the Miss Heilala beauty pageant where conflict erupted when the outgoing winner spoke up over mistreatment by organisers and the PNG visitor was subject to a racist slur from the audience.
She said there really should be no division among Melanesians, Polynesians, and Micronesians and called for one united Pacific.
Ms Kariha said the situation was uncomfortable but will not deter her work.
"Thank you for all of your support. It was painful to receive the comment. But my chaperone and I have been welcomed here by the Ministry of Tourism and by the people and we've been embraced by them."
Ms Kariha said she will not let the incident destroy the very good relationship between the Kingdom of Tonga and the people of Papua New Guinea.