Generally speaking, the Miss and Mister contests are held in different towns, islands and communities throughout the year.
There is the Miss and Mister Pape'ete pageant, the Miss Dragon pageant (organised by the Chinese community), the Miss Heivā contest (to represent Polynesian culture), the Miss “Pōpa'a pageant (for non-natives), Miss Vahinetāne (which means “man-woman”, i.e. the drag queen pageant organised by the gay (raerae) community), Miss Ronde, Miss NRJ and so on.
The Miss Tahiti pageant concludes the Miss and Mister season as the finalists from all the pageants report for casting. For the grand finale, which takes place once a year at the end of June, the Miss Tahiti Committee selects a theme (dreams, wild beauty, etc.). The 10 or so contestants selected, who must meet strict criteria, start with a parade dressed in traditional costume (outfits made of natural fibres). The ladies then compete in swimsuit and in evening gown. After these displays, four finalists are selected. They are then judged on their personality and must answer a “surprise” question. Fans provide the evening's entertainment and make it fun for all.
In the early days, the Miss Tahiti contest was organised by the Hotel Tahiti, which is no longer standing. It drew throngs of spectators, many of whom came to cheer on their nominee. As the contest became increasingly popular, it was moved to Papeete, which has venues large enough to hold large audiences: To'atā Square or the gardens of Papeete’s City Hall. For all Polynesians, watching the Miss Tahiti Pageant is a must, whether by attending the pageant itself or seeing it on television.
Once the title has been decided, the population unites behind Miss Tahiti and backs her to the hilt at the Miss France Pageant. In 2013, Polynesians, who voted overwhelmingly for Mehiata Riaria, found themselves at the centre of a controversy: not all their votes were correctly counted and Miss Tahiti just missed winning the title of Miss France.
The four Miss Tahiti winners who did win the title of Miss France showed deep attachment to their roots:
- Edna Tepava (1974). Edna is the aunt of Maréva Georges (Miss France 1991). She returned to Tahiti before her one-year reign ended.
- Thilda Fuller (1980). Thida relinquished her title four days after being crowned Miss France (she did not want to leave Polynesia) and was replaced by the 1st runner-up. She became a schoolteacher and later the leader of the Fetia Api political party, which supports autonomy.
- Maréva Georges (1991). Maréva became the host of a US TV show about boardsports and was later named Chairman of the Miss Tahiti Committee.
- Maréva Galanter (1999). Maréva entered the entertainment business and became a television actress and a show host.
Several Miss Tahitis were Miss France runners-up: Jeanne Burns, 1st runner-up (1971), Mira Vahiatua, 2nd runner-up (1975), Patricia Servonnat, 2nd runner-up (1977), Teumere Pater, 3rd runner up (1989), Hinano Teanotoga, 3rd runner up (1998), Hinarani de Longeaux, 1st runner-up (2013) and Mehiata Riaria, 1st runner-up (2014).
Some even represented France before the world at the Miss Universe beauty contest. Maréva Georges was 9th runner-up (1991), Mareva Galenter was 13th runner-up (1999) and Hinarani de Longeaux was 17th runner-up (2014).
The Miss Tahiti Internet website: www.misstahiti.com