A very spe­cial place to be

The Northland Age - - Local News -

New Zealand is a “very spe­cial place to be,” ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s new­est cit­i­zens.

The pres­ence of armed po­lice — part of na­tional se­cu­rity mea­sures fol­low­ing the Christchur­ch ter­ror at­tack — did noth­ing to dampen the spirit of the cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony in Te Ahu in Kaitaia on Wed­nes­day. But Christchur­ch was not far from the minds of those present. The cer­e­mony be­gan with a minute’s si­lence, fol­lowed by the Na­tional An­them, in hon­our of the vic­tims.

Mayor John Carter spoke about the tragedy.

Mean­while New Zealand cit­i­zen­ship was con­ferred upon 26 can­di­dates from Fiji, Aus­tralia, the UK, the US, Chile, In­dia and the Philip­pines.

Cit­i­zen­ship was the next log­i­cal step for Shan Cal­cott and her fam­ily, from the UK, who said her fam­ily were very set­tled and happy in New Zealand.

“It’s just an amaz­ing com­mu­nity; peo­ple are just so won­der­fully wel­com­ing and friendly,” she said, with tears in her eyes.

“It’s a very spe­cial place to be . . . it’s just such an hon­our and priv­i­lege to be wel­comed.”

Shyam Sasid­ha­ran came to New Zealand from In­dia for a bet­ter life and bet­ter work prospects. He now works as a nurse at the North­ern Re­gion Cor­rec­tions Fa­cil­ity at Nga¯wha¯, and has an 18-month-old New Zealand son.

Linda Evans also has New zealand off­spring — three sons and two grand­chil­dren — ev­i­dence that her 60 years here “were not wasted”. She im­mi­grated from the UK at age 11.

Te Ahu proved a beau­ti­ful venue for the cer­e­mony, with the trees out­side pro­vid­ing a great back­drop, she said.

“Be­fore the cer­e­mony there was a fan­tail flit­ting around the trees just out­side . . . I thought it was a re­ally nice New Zealand sign,” she added.

Ema Hur­tado and part­ner Peter Smith were also pleased with the cer­e­mony. From Chile and the UK re­spec­tively, New Zealand helped bring the pair to­gether 12 years ago.

Ms Hur­tado said she had a great love for New Zealand and its peo­ple.

“My first love was this coun­try and then my sec­ond love was Peter.” Be­ing able to be­come a Kiwi was “un­be­liev­able,” as New Zealand had al­ways felt like home.

“It’s some­thing so big for me — it’s like a dream, but I open my eyes and I’m still dream­ing.”

Shyam Sasid­ha­ran cel­e­brated his cit­i­zen­ship with his par­ents Sreedevi Nair and Sasid­ha­ran Pil­lai, son Aar­ian Shyam and wife Ar­sha Amma.

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