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The Heilala Festival was first organized in 1980 by the Tonga Tourist Association and the Tonga Visitors Bureau when celebrating of His Late Majesty’s King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV birthday. This year’s 29th Anniversary of Heilala Festival Celebrates another diverse program. The theme for this year, “Tonga Fiefia” or “Happy Tonga” in celebration of His Majesty’s King George Tupou V birthday.
The Heilala Pageant has become the highlight of the National Heilala Festival with young beautiful ladies from New Zealand, Australia, United States, Vavaʻu, Haʻapai and ʻEua Islands, joining our local ladies to compete for the coveted title of Miss Heilala 2009 – 2010.
The Festival is named after our national flower, the Heilala, which is the highest in the hierarchy of the Tongan flowers. The Heilala plant has both male and female variety. The Heilala plant is very difficult to propagate and has to be closely nurtured to survive.
Just like the Heilala plant, the young ladies competing for the Miss Heilala title are closely scrutinized in order that we may select the most suitable amabassador for the Kingdom’s tourism industry. In her duties as Miss Heilala, the winner is expected to assist the Ministry of Tourism and the Tonga Tourist Association in Tourist promotions both locally and abroad. In addition, this year’s Miss Heilala will become the Kingdom’s entrant to Miss South Pacific held in Fiji.
One of the most popular event during the Heilala Pageant is the Miss Tauʻolunga Competition. This popular event is an ideal occasion to see our Heritage and Culture that depicts graciously from the dance. The Tauʻolunga is a classic solo dance – the costume, the “set piece” movements and the grace and art of their execution and the natural charm and beauty of the dancers are all taken into account in the judging of the Miss Heilala Tauʻolunga.
Recognizing the technical complexities of the Miss Heilala competition, a panel of experts of each category are put together to judge each selected independent event. The judges are brief with guidelines to ensure consistencies and transparencies throughout the pageant. The judges will also take account of the contestant’s grasp of Tongan and English languages, their understanding of Tongan Culture and their empowerment of knowledge. Those elements are essential in the selection process of Miss Heilala.
The largest Festival in Tonga is the Heilala Festival from the end of June to beginning of July. This is an excellent time to come to observe local culture with traditional songs, dances and feats held throughout the two week celebrations. Handicrafts displays, parades and the Tonga Beauty pageant are also held during this time.
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