Council congratulates 16 new citizens at ceremony

South Wairarapa District Council Mayor Martin Connelly welcomed 16 new citizens to the district on Thursday 9 May at a ceremony during which he paid homage to mana whenua, the first people to call this land their home.

“I started today’s ceremony by acknowledging mana whenua, the first people to call this land their home. Then I thanked Matua Abe for his welcome to us all,” said Mayor Connelly.

“Today is most important for 16 special people from Thailand, the United Kingdom, China, India, France, the Philippines, Australia and Taiwan. You are the reason we are here.”

The Mayor encouraged the new citizens to enjoy the beauty of the South Wairarapa, its dark skies and to see the benefits in exploring the Māori language. He hoped they would be inspired to learn Te Reo Māori.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is a land of immigrants. One of the first was a fisherman called Kupe who built a large canoe and started chasing an especially annoying octopus from Hawaiiki. One morning Kupe’s wife, Hine-te-Aparangi saw a long cloud in the distance, a sign that land was near. She named the land, Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud. Kupe came ashore near here and chased the octopus across the Wairarapa. There have been many immigrants to the Wairarapa ever since.”

Mayor Connelly handed over to the South Wairarapa District Council Chief Executive, Janice Smith, who congratulated each of the 16 people on becoming New Zealand citizens.

“As one who has chosen to become a New Zealand citizen, you share a common bond with all New Zealanders, regardless of our different backgrounds. Significantly, you bring the history and heritage of your homeland to your new status as a citizen of New Zealand, therefore enriching us all,” says Janice.

“Until today New Zealand was your home; now it is your country, and your future is connected to New Zealand’s future. It is our hope that together we will build a strong, successful New Zealand for the benefit of all its citizens.”

Each new citizen received a kowhai tree, which was cultivated at Pae Tū Mōkai o Tauira in Featherston. The ceremony was then closed by singing the New Zealand national anthem and a waiata. Mayor Connelly thanked council staff members for organising the ceremony, which was followed by paramanawa (refreshments).

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