Get to know Miss Cook Islands 2019 winner Tajiya Sahay.
Kia Orana my name is Tajiya Eikura Sahay and I am 26 years old. A little insight into my life - My Dad, Rodney Sahay was born and raised in Lami, Suva Fiji and he moved to Australia to finish his secondary education. My parents met in Canberra where my Dad was at University completing his Law degree and my Mother, Ruth Scott was working for the Australian government.
My mother was raised in Rarotonga by her Grand Aunt and she also spent 4 years schooling in Mitiaro. Mitiaro known as Nukuroa is where my Grandmother hails from with connections to Manihiki.
I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, however I was very lucky that my Mother ensured we knew our Cook Islands Culture by travelling to our Ipukarea (homeland) on a yearly basis. I am very grateful that even though we were living in Australia we still embraced our culture in every way by playing Island sounds, Ura dancing, listening to Mums stories of her upbringing and participating in many Pacific Cultural Events.
I feel very connected to our ancestors, traditions, lifestyle and beliefs which is one of the main reasons I felt drawn to permanently move back home to beautiful Rarotonga!
Why did you want to enter a beauty pageant?
One of the main reasons for joining Miss Cook Islands 2019 was to follow in the footsteps of my beautiful Mother as she joined in 1980. She is my biggest inspiration and role model in life. She is a strong minded business woman with much influence on our community.
My mother once told me that Miss Cook Islands is much more than a beauty pageant, it’s about helping our people and our Country. It’s about using your platform and voice to empower others, to create awareness about important issues that are relevant to our Country. With this in mind, I strongly believe I can make a difference and be a role model for positive changes. As a very proud Cook Islander nothing makes me happier than to represent our incredible nation. Entering Miss Cook Islands gave me the opportunity to do so.
I have worked in the Early Childhood Education industry for over 8 years now and am currently studying a Diploma in Nutrition, Health and Fitness. 1500 people currently living in the Cook Islands are diagnosed with NCDS a preventable disease. I want to use my knowledge and experience to educate and create awareness about living a more active and healthy lifestyle. I am currently a personal trainer, group fitness instructor for children and adults, netball coach and a volunteer for Red Cross Cook Islands.
This platform will allow me to connect with schools and businesses, and a broader audience, to spread awareness. This is a serious issue we need to address, the Cook Islands are the second most obese country in the world and our statistics show that we are not surviving beyond the age of 60 due to NCDS. Our younger generations need to be educated more and shown more how to live a fun active lifestyle instead of exercise being a chore.
I have many practices in place that allows this movement to happen, and I am thrilled to see the changes in our Community. It is definitely a chain reaction when more people jump on board, we as a nation can make a change and I want to pursue this change. I want to use every opportunity to help make a difference where I can.
What is unique about Pacific pageants?
It is a one of our very special annual events offered to our young Pacific women to perform, learn and educate our small Pacific communities about our culture, values and history. Our contestants are offered so much support mentally, physically and financially from our communities in terms of sponsorship and families, friends and behind the scene teams. We work as a tight support unit as that is how our Pacific cultures and people are built throughout.
Miss Cook Islands Unique qualities for Miss World -
I believe Miss Cook Islands unique qualities are that of our practicing traditions that have been a part of our culture for hundreds of years, our Ura dancing or Tamure, our Te Reo Maori language and for me most of all our belief system as people. It is embedded in our mentality to help our people wherever they need. We are raised on our Kia Orana Values which are sharing our Kia Orana spirit, ending every conversation with Meitaki, preserving our Mana Tiaki and upholding our traditions, customs and beliefs passed down by our ancestors.
Our Culture has raised us, there are not a lot of cultures out there that have these written out taught values. It is what makes us and our lands unique, you were raised on them they are naturally a part of us. Pacific people are naturally gifted with “giving”.
Our people have a reputation of being kind, smiling, beautiful and giving, there is not a lot of that out in the big world, we represent that emotionally and physically in our dancing, in the way our people talk were passionate about ourselves, the way we welcome people into our homes our culture is all over us. There really is nothing more unique than that. I believe this is a much needed quality to have when we are representing a Miss World title.
You performed a really unique talent in the pageant - can you tell us where you learned how to pole dance and the skill you need to be able to do it?
I am very passionate about fitness and living an active lifestyle, I participate in all sorts of sports ranging from netball, swimming, European handball, table tennis, yoga, hiking, kayaking, cycling, you name it. While living in Australia, I wanted a new and exciting hobby that would challenge myself physically and mentally. Luckily a Pole Academy had opened in my neighbourhood. There are 8 levels, level 1-3 beginners 4-6 Intermediate 7-8 Advanced. Completing all levels I then had moved to the Cook Islands and missed the exercise so much that when I returned to Australia I made sure I brought one over to the Cook Islands.
It definitely clears my mind, connects my mind, body and soul, something that I enjoy doing in my spare time. It is by far the hardest Exercise I have ever done, it does give you multiple bruises and feels like Chinese burns but the more your body and skin conditions it isn’t as painful. I have now upgraded to a spin pole which I was never taught professionally I actually used YouTube tutorials to help me and a l or of practice but this was the fun part, learning something new and it being very challenging, you have to engage your core more and have good balance. This was definitely a thrill and has made me fitter than I’ve ever been!
What is the idea of a beautiful Pacific woman to you?
I believe all Woman are beautiful in their own way but a beautiful Pacific woman I believe we all portray. Which is a strong and nurturing woman. Basically what every pacific islander mum is, how they are so cultured how they are with you, a caregiver a grower, a nurturer and combine that with women around you that inspire you. The sacrifices our Woman make and how they build our communities. They are the backbone, they treat everyone the same, stranger, friend, family they will always look after you, feed you, clothe you, put a roof over your head, guide you, they will always watch over you.
* Cover shot photo credit - Alex King Photography