The Festival is named after Tonga’s national flower, the Heilala, which is the highest in the hierarchy of the Tongan flowers. The Heilala plant has both male and female variety, but only the female variety flowers. 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 scrutinised to ensure only the most suitable ambassador is selected for the Kingdom of Tonga.
Judging Miss Heilala
The Miss Heilala Pageant Committee and the Heilala Organising Committee have put together judging criteria for every segments of the Miss Heilala competition and have selected independent judges to judge each category. In addition special attention is paid to the judges briefing and guidelines to ensure consistency and transparency throughout the pageant.
In selecting the Miss Heilala, the judges will be looking for glamour and sophistication among the contestants. The contestants’ communication skills will also be judged during the interview session. In addition, the judges will also take account of the contestants’ grasp of Tongan and English languages, their understanding of Tongan culture and their general knowledge. These elements are considered equally important in the selection process for Miss Heilala.
The Miss Heilala Tau’olunga competition is a popular event during the Heilala Festival and it is an ideal occasion to see our heritage and culture depicted in the dance. The tau’olunga is a classic solo dance in the Tongan culture. It was traditionally performed by the daughters of the Royal Family and nobility. Every aspect of the 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 Tau’olunga. Recognising the technical complexities of the Miss Heilala Tau’olunga competition a panel of cultural experts are put together to judge the event.
Duties of Miss Heilala
In her duties as Miss Heilala, the winner is expected to assist the Tonga Visitors Bureau/Ministry of Tourism and the Kingdom of Tonga’s tourism industry in tourism promotions both locally and abroad.
In addition, the Miss Heilala will also be the Kingdom of Tonga’s entrant in the Miss South Pacific Pageant.
Heilala Festival History
The Heilala Festival was first organised in 1980 by the Tonga Visitors Bureau (Ministry of Tourism) and the Tonga Tourist Association (TTA) to celebrate the birthday of His Late Majesty’s King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.
In 2010, the Heilala Festival is jointly organised by the Tonga Tourist Association (TTA) and the Tonga Visitors Bureau (Ministry of Tourism).
Mr Sakopo Lolohea, CEO of the Tonga Visitors Bureau (Ministry of Tourism), noted “many people overseas make plans every year to come to Tonga during the Heilala Festival. They feel that this is a good time to be in Tonga. We want to foster that feeling, as a new spirit of cooperation could help further boost the tourism industries and our economy in general”. He added that “the 30th Heilala Festival will be a great opportunity to promote Tongan business and communities”.
The annual Heilala Festival would not have been made possible without the support of the local businesses, airlines, banks, tourism operators, government departments and community groups both locally and from abroad.