Amber-Lee Friis, a finalist in the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant, died on Monday. She was 23.
The New Zealand Police confirmed to People that they responded to a sudden death call on May 18, which was referred to the coroner.
Her cause of death is unknown, but The Daily Mail reports it was suicide.
Nigel Godfrey, CEO of Miss World New Zealand, confirmed Friis’ death in a memorial Facebook post on Tuesday.
“Tragically she passed away yesterday, the world is a lesser place without her in it,” he wrote. “She was a force to be reckoned with.”
“She was genuine, honest and she had an energy few others possess, her heart was most definitely in the right place. We liked and respected her and were very proud to call her a friend, long after the competition had finished,” said Godfrey. “RIP Amber Lee you have left us far, far too soon.”
Her talent agency also confirmed the death. “It is with immense sadness we acknowledge the sudden passing of a beautiful and talented Wahine Amber-lee Friis,” The Talent Tree wrote on Facebook. “Our sincere aroha and condolences to Amber-Lee’s family and friends. R.I.P beautiful lady,” they said, using a Maori word meaning love.
Friis competed in the 2018 Miss Universe New Zealand competition and was one of 20 finalists. She traveled to Thailand during her attempt at the crown, according to Stuff, a New Zealand-based news source.
“All these beautiful girls deserve a crown of some sort, you wouldn’t believe how many friends I have made. This journey was a once in a life time opportunity, I am forever grateful,” Friis wrote on her Facebook page in 2018 on the eve of the pageant’s finals. “My memories will last forever.”
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