Miss Fiji is Miss South Pacific 2009!

Suva, Fiji (AHN) - Miss Fiji Merewalesi Nailatikau tonight grabbed the Miss South Pacific crown in the Miss South Pacific pageant ahead of 12 other contestants at Suva's Albert Park, calling on all leaders to work together. An emotional Mere, as she is fondly known, thanked God "for a beautiful South Pacific, its people, culture and values". "Our challenges shape us into stronger better people. My reward is the love and friendship that I've shared with my sisters (fellow contestants)," she said. Miss Cook Islands Engara Gosselin, 24, Miss Aotearoa Paretaunu Randall, 25, Miss Solomon Islands Millicent Barty, 19, and Miss Samoa Tusisaelia Pomele, 22, were respectively crowned first to fourth runner-up. Papua New Guinea will host the next pageant in 2010. The Miss South Pacific pageant was first held in Samoa in 1987 after its founding in 1986.

Miss South Pacific 2008, Niue's Vanessa Toriana Tracey Limatoa Marsh, surrounded by the 2009 contestants