Half Maori is new Miss Switzerland

Source: AP|Published: Monday September 18, 8:14 AM

GENEVA, Sept 17 - A 19-year-old Swiss woman born in New Zealand was
crowned Miss Switzerland this weekend, and has used the
opportunity to express pride in her indigenous Maori roots and urge her
adopted country to improve its treatment of immigrants. 

Mahara McKay, who holds dual citizenship from her Swiss mother and New
Zealand father, told the weekly SonntagsBlick that one of
her top goals if she were a Swiss politician would be to “ease
naturalisation for everyone who was born here (to foreign parents) or
has spent half their life here”. 

Switzerland, which has one of the lowest naturalisation rates in Europe,
has an anti-foreign undercurrent in nationalist and right-wing
parties. Applicants for a Swiss passport must live at least 12 years in
the country and meet other requirements. 

The county will have a referendum on the issue next weekend when voters
are asked to accept or reject a citizens initiative to limit to 18
per cent the number of non-Swiss residents. The country now has a
foreign population exceeding 19 per cent. 

“I'm very proud that I'm half Maori,” said McKay, who lived in Auckland
until she was 10. “The Maori culture is unique. I like the beliefs
and the closeness to nature.” 

McKay, whose father lives in New Zealand, was selected over 15 other
contestants yesterday.
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