A new frontier, right here
A massive 38 new New Zealand citizens were welcomed to the South Waikato district on Friday in what was its biggest citizenship ceremony to date.
With families and individuals relocating from the likes of Egypt, the Philippines, Brazil, Fiji, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Samoa, Cambodia, Sir Lanka, India, and China the district is also becoming one of New Zealand’s most culturally diverse.
Taupo MP Louise Upston, mayor Jenny Shattock, South Waikato District Council chief executive Craig Hobbs, councillors, other community representatives, and extended family members all gathered for the ceremony which was also held at the South Waikato Sport and Events Centre for the first time.
Usually such ceremonies are held in the council chambers and the ceremony was originally scheduled to take place during the council’s meeting on Thursday but due to such high numbers it was moved to the Friday and the events centre instead.
Shattock could hardly contain her excitment on welcoming the new New Zealanders to the South Waikato.
‘‘How exciting is this, it is so multicultural and it just makes our community better for it with all these new cultures that come in. It is awesome,’’ she said.
‘‘It is the first time we have had it at the events centre too so that is really special.’’
South Waikato District Council chief executive Craig Hobbs said it was a reflection of the trend of more people recognizing the South Waikato as a desirable location to live.
‘‘It is really special that the South Waikato is so multicultural and people are realising what the South Waikato has,’’ he said.
Upston acknowledged the new citizens for recognising New Zealand as a ‘‘land of opportunity’’ and for choosing the South Waikato as their new home.
‘‘Make sure you share your cultures with others because one thing that makes us wealthy as a nation is our people and diversity,’’ she said.
‘‘The fact that there are so many councillors here really does recognise how important you are to this district.’’
She encouraged the new citizens to embrace the South Waikato.
‘‘Embrace every opportunity that your new home and land provides,’’ she said.