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Laural Barrett is Miss Universe New Zealand 2007 

Laural Barratt, Sylvia Laurenson and Jessica Body, winning the top three prizes at Miss Universe New Zealand 2007. This image is copyright. Please do not steal it.[Cross-posted] (Miss The Edge ) is Miss Universe New Zealand 2007. It was not easy. As we tallied our scores in the judging room, we noticed that in many cases, positions were determined by half a point.
   Naturally, I can’t discuss whom wound up second to some of the prizes, but one of the non-placing prizewinners got her special award by that narrowest of margins.
   But as we saw Laural up on stage as Miss Universe (and seeing that sudden surprise on her face, just as on TV), we knew that we had made a good decision. I believe she will represent the nation well, and have the confidence and poise at 2007 in Mexico City. It will also give her singing career an amazing boost, and I am confident that she will place very well at the international competition.
   Calling someone ‘second’ is not an insult here, given the closeness of the competition. Sylvia Laurenson (Miss Boulgaris.com) was runner-up (with the usual conditions of ‘If Miss Universe New Zealand cannot serve, then you are it’) but as I told her earlier, I expect to see a lot more of her in broadcasting and . She has a drive and confidence. As my friend and co-judge said, she did not win her pageant in the 1980s, but wound up with a 20-year career. Sylvia gets my vote for the contestant most likely to get in to a profession in the public eye here in New Zealand.
   Jessica Body (Miss Asta Club & Lounge) placed second runner-up. At 5'4", one might think she was at a disadvantage. But then, Miss Universe 2006 is 5'5". Jess (one of three girls with the Christian name) has those eyes that follow you around a room, no matter where she was looking. She was clearly Miss Personality, a unanimous decision from the judges. I say this without being flattering: she has star quality. She shone from beginning to end.
   What was interesting was that every one of us had shortlisted nearly the same ten girls to go in to the finals. Our first to eighth contestants were identical, with a bit of back-room negotiations to determine the ninth and tenth.
   What audiences did not see was the Thursday night judging that went from 6 p.m. to midnight. We met with the young ladies casually, then at an interview. We also had a preview of the swimsuits on that night, and there were some changes earlier tonight in terms of our top 10. The interview was a massive part, however: while it is a beauty pageant, we took into account the girls’ intelligence, speech, succinctness, rapidity of response, depth of response, and appropriateness. We also got to see them sitting on an armchair, not dissimilar, as it turned out, to the one on stage that Laural got to sit on.
   Laural did interview very well. Now the real work begins, as I have to organize a shoot with her for a future feature as part of her prize. As some know, Laural’s twin sister, Sharaine, placed runner-up in 2006 with her natural hair colour; now-blonde Laural probably made the right choice with her hair, accentuating her skin and facial features.
   The three prize-winners on stage were a true vision. Then, so were all the girls. Eye-candy with substance: as the only male judge, and in many settings the only man other than the director’s partner, I was in danger of sensory overload.
   And if you saw what stress director Val Lott was under, having to be compère, organizer, surrogate mother, judging coordinator, press relations’ director, etc., you would admire her no end. Allan, by her side, was still working at 1.35 a.m., when I left, after hanging out with and the Cassie clan. A great night; and I can only imagine how the prizewinners are buzzing.
   For those wanting to check the earlier contestant photos from Miss Universe New Zealand, I can say with much authority that they do not do them much justice. We had been very surprised as to how different the girls actually looked, with Katie Taylor far more impressive in every respect in person.

PS.: The 5'5" claim was made by one of the contestants last night and may or may not be true.

P.PS.: The photograph is copyright. I do not want to see it on other blogs. Please respect this. We are currently in the process of removing a car blog page because of a copyright violation, and I hate being a bastard.
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Do you know where I could find pageant photos of the winner wearing her crown?  
Carly, I didn’t send a photographer last night and I am waiting for them myself. I have a few cellphone-taken ones but they are pretty blurry. Lighting was not ideal last night.
   I believe there will be some in the Herald tomorrow, and the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly will do a story this week. Norrie Montgomery (Sunday Star–Times) was there, so I guess it might wind up in ‘About Town’ next week.
   We’re not doing the story about Laural till June so we haven’t been in as much of a rush to secure the pics, sorry.  
I now have an image, Carly, but it’s not for reposting (actually, none of this site is!). There’s one other one of Laural, close-up, at my personal blog (jackyan.vox.com), but the same rules apply.  
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