Lorraine Downes: The incredible journey of only Miss Universe from New Zealand

17 Jan 2024 | Priya Bhardwaj

Lorraine Downes was 19-years-old when she created history at the Miss Universe stage in 1983 by becoming the first ever Miss Universe crown from New Zealand. She became a household name overnight and spent the next 12 months travelling the world, carrying out the duties of Miss Universe and meeting high profile leaders such as US President Ronald Reagan. It was a life changing experience for the young woman from Pakuranga who had arrived in St. Louis with a small suitcase and a bundle of nerves.

Recalling her journey, Lorraine quoted that winning the crown was one of the most life-changing experience for her as it not only opened the pathway for her but many other young women in New Zealand to step into the pageant world. She recalled how she felt honoured because she could use her voice to create an impact on countless people who saw her as a voice of change and empowerment. 


Lorraine Downes: The incredible journey of only Miss Universe from New Zealand


Lorriane Downes is now a founder and director of successful modelling agency and image consultancy. She has written two books; REAL, The Truth about Fashion, Beauty and Image, co-authored with Frances Jones (1997), and Life, Loss, Love (2018). Her heartfelt book acts as a way of coping after the loss of her father and husband and of how to continue with life afterwards. In 2006, she won the second season of New Zealand’s Dancing with the Stars television series, raising almost $112,000 for the Child Cancer Foundation.

Ofcourse, like we always say 'All that glitters is not gold', there were obstacles in her Miss Universe journey as well. She spoke about how the only thing that she was not comfortable during her reign was the public profile. She explained that the experiences one has are not always the one that you want to share with the public but when you’re at such position that everyone’s eyes are on you, it starts to get uncomfortable after a time.


Lorraine Downes: The incredible journey of only Miss Universe from New Zealand


The stunning former Miss Universe also spoke about how she wanted to work on ‘The Gift’, a concept about sharing about the people who have helped her in her life path. The project got put on hold when her late husband, Crowe, became ill. She mostly stayed out of the spotlight, apart from when she married All Black Murray Mexted, and then legendary cricketer Martin Crowe.

Lorraine is a strong believer of God and believes that she is always positive about loving herself in any situation. She keeps herself busy with working with her clients consulting on personal image and wellbeing, working with MitoQ as an ambassador, working with Mercy Hospice as an ambassador, keeping fit with spin classes, yoga, walking, and dancing Argentinean tango. Till date, Lorraine remains as the only New Zealand beauty to win Miss Universe crown for her country.