A very special place to be
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.