By Kent Larsen
Columnist Re-acquainted with Former Miss New Zealand
WAIKATO, NEW ZEALAND -- A columnist for the Waikato New Zealand Times was
surprised to find that the woman visiting him to promote an LDS
Church-sponsored event was Miss New Zealand, 1980, the same woman he had
hied 20 years earlier to help promote a New Zealand product in the US. Vicki
Lee Wihongi, now 39, was promoting a business seminar, "Harmonizing Work
and Life" presented by Dr. John Covey (brother to well-known management
consultant Stephen R. Covey).
In 1980 she was Vicki Lee Hemi, a 17-year-old model who the columnist,
Gordon Chesterman, hired for publicity shots for the Woolrest Sleeper, a
"mattress overlay" that made sleeping more comfortable. Within the year Hemi
had been named Miss New Zealand and went on to place 7th, behind Miss
America, in the Miss World competition. Chesterman went on to work at
bringing the Woolrest Sleeper to the US, and hired Vicki Lee again, this
time newly married to Strantz Wihongi and living in Southern California.
Vicki Lee has now lived in the US for 13 years and is now the mother of a
son and four daughters. She also has a business consulting company, The
Excell Group, and is active in both the LDS Church and her commmunity,
serving on the board of her children's school and on a performing arts board.
Chesterman also observes that her family is also highly accomplished. Two of
her brothers, Api and JoJo Hemi, run a highly-successful auto shipping and
importing business, Autoterminal.com, and were rated by New Zealand's
National Business Review as having fortunes worth a combined $20 million.
Her father, Dave, was a successful builder and her other brothers are also
successful in business. Mormon News' research indicates that her family is
Catching up with a familiar face
Waikato NZ Times 2Aug01 P2
By Gordon Chesterman