Friday, February 23, 2024

Putting her best foot forward

Alison Hereamia is all poised to represent east Auckland at the Mrs Aotearoa pageant, that crowns Mrs Universe NZ and Mrs Earth NZ in April this year. FARIDA MASTER speaks to the contestant about her journey of self-worth as she bravely ventured out, a bit out of her depth.

Poise, confidence, the ability to think on your feet, answer pertinent questions without blinking those mascaraed eyelashes or do the supermodel walk in sky high heels! It’s not easy putting yourself out there on stage for public scrutiny and have people judge you but Alison Hereamia has decided to push the envelope and dared to dream.

When a friend contacted Alison as a probable contestant for the Mrs Aotearoa pageant, the Flat Bush resident was a bit taken aback. The thought had never crossed her mind. This beauty pageant is for married women from all continents and includes those who have been married previously, have a family, a career and are involved with a significant cause.

“I had a friend who encouraged me to join. Initially I was anxious but then grew to understand that I need to challenge myself and get out of my shell,” says the recruitment specialist by profession. Alison also runs her own business Pūawai HR Consultancy. With a bachelor’s in business HR and Employment Relations, tucked under her belt, she now plans to go back to university to study Law.

Despite upheavals in her personal life, Alison knew she had to empower herself, be resilient enough to push boundaries and discover aspects of her personality she didn’t know existed. Recounting her story, she lets out hesitantly.

“I am a mother of a beautiful almost 17-year-old, Araliyah. I was a teenage mum and though life over time has brought many struggles, and her father and I have separated, my daughter has been my motivation every day to better myself and become the role model she can look up to.

“I joined the Mrs Aotearoa pageant at the encouragement of many friends, at first thinking it will help me with my confidence and posture. Alongside this, it has helped me do some soul searching and opened deeper sides to myself that I had closed over the past few years.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people in this journey and find that it has helped me to walk with my head held up high, literally, and figuratively!

“I was told recently by a friend that being vulnerable isn’t weakness. This made me reflect on the root cause of why I need to challenge myself to go on this journey,” says the young professional of Māori (Ngaitu Teauru, Ngai Tawake) and European decent (Scottish, Irish and Yugoslavian).

Alison’s chosen charity organisation is Woven Earth that works alongside organisations such as Women’s Refuge, that she recently fundraised for. She also volunteers her time teaching some fun moves every weekend to the Botany and Flat Bush Ethnic Association’s Zumba enthusiasts at Ormiston Primary School.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community and meeting so many diverse people who all come together to keep fit and healthy,” she says. “It’s my happy place teaching Zumba, encouraging health and wellbeing in my community and bringing positivity to others.”

Talking about all the things that makes her smile, she adds saying, “My other happy place is my whanau, and being in nature either going for a bush walk or helping mum with the garden.”

As she trains hard to embark on a meaningful journey of self-development, Alison hopes to inspire other women, “to embrace their true beauty, build their confidence, find their own voice, and know their worth.

“I would like to be a strong role model for my daughter and help her realise that even though we go through tough times we are able to make it through and come out stronger,” she ends.

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