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The girl with the different coloured eyes who shared Diversity with Charity

What is it about aura and presence that captivates the very essence of interest and makes you stand still in your track and want to stare, engage and never leave… that feeling when you meet someone and the eyes tell a lifetime story and more… The first time I met Brooke Houia this was exactly how I felt. There is something special about Brooke, it is hard to describe – a young women facing life surrounded by adversity yet embracing it with passion and an incredible positive attitude. The conversations around the true meaning of ‘Diversity’ have been interesting – what does ‘Diversity’ mean to a 19 year old… Brooke explains. Her eyes light up and she grins from ear to ear – my life is diverse, the communities I live and co-exist in are diverse, the people and the businesses I come into contact with are diverse, and so am I. With pride she shares. I am lucky to have been adopted into such a loving family, I am dyslexic, my brother is special needs, my mother is a burns victim, a cancer survivor and has MS, special family friends are homosexual and transgender, my background is multi-cultural and I cherish my whanaungatanga (Maori heritage), and then she sums it up – I am blessed! So the question is how many 19 year old young women do you know truly grasp the true concept of real ‘Diversity’? … I have two daughters slightly older than Brooke and as incredible and selfless as they are, diversity to this degree is something they have never had to comprehend. Highly topical and fraught with mixed views and strong opinions are Beauty Pageants. It just so happens Brooke Houia was crowned Miss North Harbour 2016, and Runner Up Miss Universe NZ 2017. The haters state it is about the swimwear, the figures, the good looks and no brains! And most of us ask on that basis : ‘Why would you’? Having been on this journey with Brooke, I can promise you my eyes have been opened! I have seen sacrifice, determination, compassion, humility, excitement and every other describable emotion, including integrity and grit. The 20 finalists were challenged to complete an ‘Entrepreneurial ‘ challenge – a fund raiser to support VarietyNZ a charity working with children here in New Zealand, and the other part of the fundraising was to financially support themselves as a contestant (it is an expensive process), and to lighten the financial load for those families involved. Fabuleux Vous as Brooke’s Gold Sponsor was heavily involved in Brookes challenge – she took on a marathon! She wanted to incorporate her lover for ‘Diversity’, and put it out there that we are all different, and that each and every one of us regardless, have something to contribute. Her event was incredible – a Variety Show with entertainers, fashion, skin care and pop up stalls…. Brooke took ‘Diversity’ to the next level, from home grown brands like ‘Hardout Kiwi’ specialising in Maori designed fashion, to NZ merino with ‘Simply Beautiful’ and an incredible catwalk with the infamous transgender NZ designer ‘Cecilia Kang’ Couture. We saw the models accessorised by Fabuleux Vous, wearing jewellery far from main stream and as rare as it is, Fabuleux Vous took to the runway with their own special show. The multicultural involvement was amazing, from kiwi folk, to those from our Pacific Islands, Korea, China, Philippines and more… I loved the fact that our models included burn victims, special needs, plus sizes and both men and women. Brooke raised around $4k   What is this all about you ask? …. In short, lessons learnt from a teenager! In the face of adversity, you have two choices – embrace or hide When you met someone and can feel that special aura – allow yourself to engage Youth play an important part in our in communities It is not the years in your life that matter, it is the life in your years that really count From our experience Miss Universe was not just about a pretty face …..   So to the girl with the different coloured eyes – yes one is very green and one is brown, congratulations! Brooke, you have showed us that ‘Diversity’ is real You led us on a mission where we have all found gold You highlighted the courage it takes to stand out from the ordinary You have made a difference to the lives of children supported by VarietyNZ We take our hat off to you! Helen Thompson-Carter www.helentc.com

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