'She's created a conversation': Magnolia Maymuru ends Miss World Australia finals with chants of Arnhem Land.

By Emilia Terzon.

An Indigenous teenage model whose beauty pageant selection made international headlines has ended her Miss World Australia journey with chants of “Arnhem Land”.

Maminydjama Magnolia Maymuru’s story was widely shared after she was selected as the pageant’s first ever Northern Territory candidate in May.

“It’s been a crazy experience,” Ms Maymuru said.

The Yolngu woman grew up in Yirrkala in North East Arnhem, and was finishing her high school studies in Darwin when a model manager spotted her getting cash out of an ATM in 2014.

She initially knocked back his modelling offer to instead focus on studying, and later debuted as a model at NT Fashion Week in 2015 after completing year 12.

Since being selected for the pageant, Ms Maymuru has been juggling photoshoots and magazine requests with her day job as a sports and recreation officer in Yirrkala.

She said one of the highlights had been hearing about a school in Italy that has started studying Yolngu culture after seeing news stories about her.

“I’m very, very surprised by how far my story has gone,” she said.

“I have achieved my goal. I’ve got one country learning about another country, how we’re multicultural, and how all cultures are created equal.”

The pageant title was awarded to Madeleine Cowe, a law student from Queensland, with Ms Maymuru finishing in the final 10.

Ms Maymuru’s model manager Mehali Tsangaris said she was a winner regardless.


“She’s won anyway,” he said.

“I think that she’s created a conversation with Australians that we haven’t actually seen girls that look like Magnolia before on the runway. [That] creates more conversation about us all coming together.”

‘No matter what colour you are’

Speaking from the red carpet event, Ms Maymuru’s grandmother Banbapuy Ganambarr cited the word “batayunmirri” to describe the 19-year-old’s journey.

“[In Yolngu Matha] it means competing or racing against. Competing for things you have to show,” Ms Gunambarr said.

“No matter what colour you are, you can achieve in the end.”

Ms Maymuru’s grandfather Oscar Whitehead said the interest her story has generated in places as far away as Italy had “surprised” him.

“I wondered why she wanted to be a model,” Mr Whitehead said.

“I have to give [modelling] credit. It’s been very influential.”

Ms Maymuru was last week announced as the face of a major Melbourne shopping centre.

But she is also considering going to university to study teaching or following in Mr Whitehead’s footsteps to become a doctor.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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