Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) held a citizenship ceremony on Tuesday at the Lake Wānaka Centre, which is believed to be the biggest in the district to date, with 93 people from 19 different countries becoming new citizens.
The former countries of origin were: England, Brazil, India, South Africa, United States of America, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Thailand, Germany, Fiji, France, Wales, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Czech Republic, Jersey and Samoa.
Mayor Jim Boult and all QLDC councillors bar one were in attendance. Highlights from the ceremony included karakia blessings, a speech from Mayor Jim Boult and a heartwarming performance of the Kiwi national anthem—‘God Defend New Zealand’—by Mount Aspiring College (MAC) junior choir.
In his speech, Boult said, “After today, this is a journey that we take together as proud New Zealanders, proud Kiwis. On behalf of the New Zealand government and the people of the Queenstown Lakes District, I wish you every joy and success in your life in Aotearoa. So I say again, tēnā koutou, welcome home.”
The aspiring citizens made either an oath of allegiance, which is a religious statement, or an affirmation of allegiance—to say they are loyal to New Zealand. Then were called up on stage individually to shake hands with the Mayor and accept a native plant.
According to the New Zealand Government website, you are not a citizen until you have made your oath or affirmation at a citizenship ceremony. That said, children aged 13 and under will receive their certificate without having to attend a citizenship ceremony.
When asked why he wished to become a New Zealand citizen, Marcio Giovamimi from Brazil said, “Lord of the Rings, ay. [...] It’s a really nice place to raise the kids as well. The kids were all born here, they’re all Kiwis.”
The McVickars family from Scotland have lived in New Zealand for the past five years and expressed their excitement surrounding the occasion and their new life prospects.
Robert Edwards from Jersey has lived in New Zealand for the past nine years and said he sees the country as home. Now, these 93 new citizens can apply for New Zealand passports, which is a separate process, if they want one.