Former Miss Universe New Zealand finalist Amber-Lee Friis has passed away at the age of 23.
Her talent agency The Talent Tree confirmed the sad news on Facebook. They wrote, "It is with immense sadness we acknowledge the sudden passing of a beautiful and talented Wahine Amber-lee Friis.
"Amber-Lee was one of our original Models for The Talent Tree and a finalist in 2018 Miss Universe NZ (Miss World New Zealand)
"Our sincere aroha and condolences to Amber-Lee's family and friends. R.I.P beautiful lady."
The pageant world has been rocked by Amber-Lee's death with Miss Universe New Zealand sharing on Facebook, "Our sincerest condolences to the friends and whānau of Amber-lee Friis, whom we have just learned from The Talent Tree has passed away. Continue shining brightly, Amber-lee, just as we remembered you."
Nigel Godfrey, CEO of Miss World New Zealand, shared his fond memories of working with Amber-Lee, calling her a "force to be reckoned with".
He continued, "She was feisty, definitely took no prisoners, but she was a beautiful soul and you 100% knew what you were getting. 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. Amber Lee turned her life, and indeed her experience with us around, and into an incredibly positive force for good. In the years since she has been loyal and supportive and we value that above anything.
"Tragically she passed away yesterday, the world is a lesser place without her in it. She had a great deal more to give and it is a dreadful tragedy that she won't be here to realise her unlimited potential. RIP Amber Lee you have left us far, far too soon."
Friends have taken to Amber-Lee's Facebook page to share their heartbreak.
One friend wrote, "Rest in peace you Beautiful girl, I cherish every moment I spent with you till we see each other again."
Another added, "Rest In Peace Amber-Lee, you are so loved by so many people."
"Rest In Peace beautiful Amber you will always be in our hearts," someone else wrote.
Amber-Lee had previously spoken about how she struggled for some time with self-confidence after being bullied at school.
Speaking with NZ Stuff in 2018 she said, "I remember sitting in my room one night and thinking how hard life could be. At a young age you feel the world is weighing on your shoulders."
"I had a negative outlook on everything. I pictured myself as being an angry, fat, old lady but then I thought: This is not what I want to be like."
On her 18th birthday she decided to turn things around and soon after was contacted by someone working for the Miss Universe NZ pageant.
"I was like a lost sheep before I started writing down goals and started focusing on what I wanted to do. I felt stuck and helpless. No one ever has to feel that way."
"I want to help young girls see their potential and set up a life-plan to achieve it."
Details surrounding her death are limited at this time.
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