PCC Promo Team dancer and Laie resident Tessie Toluta’u [pictured at right during the 2007 PCC Moanikeala Hula Festival] recently swept all categories to win the title of Miss South Pacific in Apia, Samoa. For her talent she performed Tongan tau’olunga and Tahitian dances.
Toluta’u qualified for this latest recognition of her talent and beauty by winning the Miss Tonga USA crown in May 2007 in Waikiki as Laie’s representative. “That’s usually held in San Francisco, but contestants came from all over the U.S.,” said PCC emcee musician Sia Tonga, who acted as a chaperone and helped with her tau’olunga.
In July 2007 Toluta’u went on to win the Miss Heilala contest in Tonga. The Tongan tourism ministry asked her to stay on to act as a hostess for the South Pacific Forum, a regional government organization, and from there she went to Apia to represent the kingdom in the Miss South Pacific pageant.
Toluta’u was born in Tonga but has lived in Laie since she was four years old, when she joined Aunty Sunday Mariteragi’s hula halau. “Then she joined Uncle John’s [Mariteragi] Tahitian group, Nonosina Hawaii, and that’s where she learned her Tahitian. She’s been on the PCC Promo Team since she was in 10th grade, and she’s gone to China, Japan, Korea, and spent a summer in Branson, Missouri,” said her mother, Sheila Toluta’u.
Sheila and Eleni Nauahi — mother of Promo Team dancer Sina Nauahi and creator of Tessie’s “natural materials” costume, respectively — accompanied Tessie to the pageant in Samoa.
Sina also came in third in the 2006 Miss South Pacific contest. Luçie Wilson of Laie, another PCC Promo Team member, also competed in the 2007 South Pacific pageant.