17 November 2022

Rugby, dirt and tiaras: Miss Wagga Wagga titleholders challenge stereotypes

| Chris Roe
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Miss Wagga Wagga

Miss Wagga Wagga Kate Pevere and Community Princess Haylee Burkinshaw enjoy challenging stereotypes. Photos: Supplied.

Miss Wagga Wagga Kate Pevere and Community Princess Haylee Burkinshaw were crowned just over a week ago, and consider themselves unlikely titleholders.

“My mum first mentioned the idea of doing it a couple of years ago,” explains Kate.

“I said, ‘Carol, I play rugby union and I couldn’t even curl or straighten my hair if I tried, there’s no way I’m doing a pageant!’ She went, ‘Don’t be silly, that’s not even what it’s about at all’.”

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Haylee has a similar reaction, speaking to Region while driving a loader in her day job as yard manager at a landscaping business.

“I drive trucks and shovel dirt for a living,” she says with a laugh.

“So it’s all a bit of a change from what I’m used to and it definitely is nice to remind myself that I am a girl!

“It does definitely make you feel good and I honestly love having both worlds going on.”

Miss Wagga Wagga

Kate plays rugby and Haylee drives loaders. Both are keen to give back to Wagga through the Miss Wagga Wagga Quest. Photos: Supplied.

The pair have become firm friends through the Miss Wagga Wagga Quest and agree that it’s been an amazing opportunity.

“I grew up in Wagga and have been involved in a heap of sporting things, so the quest was initially a chance to give back to the community,” Kate says.

“My partner laughs that when I said I wanted to have a quiet year and do some volunteering, he thought I meant an hour a week at Vinnies!

“I’ve got a lot more out of it than even I could have imagined; we’ve raised more money than we were expecting and we’ve got so many skills out of it as well.”

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Haylee says she was surprised when her boss suggested she give it a go.

“My sponsor, Sue (Schiller) at Bedrock Landscape Supplies, had done it in a previous year,” she says.

“When she asked me what I wanted out of the year, I said I wanted a bit of guidance and mentoring and she suggested the Miss Wagga Wagga Quest.

“I honestly thought it was a six-week program, and now eight months later, I’m the Community Princess.”

Kate shrugs off public misconceptions about the quest.

“We still get asked all the time if it’s a beauty pageant and we say ‘No, definitely not’,” she laughs.

“There is an element of presentation and an expectation that you dress appropriately for the events.

“But it’s not a comparison between entrants to find who’s wearing the best dress or anything like that.”

Miss Wagga Wagga

Kate and Haylee have been straight down to work in their first week as titleholders. Photo: Miss Wagga Wagga Quest.

Both agree that it’s been a busy and rewarding year and a hectic first week as titleholders.

“It’s already been a transition,” Kate says. ”The last year was about organising events and raising funds for the charities, and now we’re already representing the quest at different things and helping out with whatever we can.”

As a proud Wagga girl, she is keen to dive into the role and celebrate the city she loves.

“Wagga is really special to me. It’s a place that has shown me a lot of opportunities in regard to career, education and sports and it’s a very inclusive town,” she says.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the 2024 entrants and actually watching them grow and develop through the same experiences that we had.

“We want to take every opportunity that we can to get more involved with the community and to empower young women to take opportunities that they probably wouldn’t have ever considered in the first place.”

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