Welcoming our latest New Zealand citizens

An eager group of residents gathered at the ANZAC Hall on Friday, 2 December to witness eight of our South Wairarapa residents give their oath or affirmation (as chosen by them), as a final step in the process of obtaining New Zealand citizenship.

The ceremony was held in the Kiwi Hall area of the Anzac Hall complex in Featherston in front of Mayor Martin Connelly, and was well attended with over 50 friends and family in support. Also attending were the Deputy Mayor Melissa Sadler-Futter, Councillors Kaye McAulay, Colin Olds and Rebecca Gray, Council staff, members of the Māori Standing Committee, and mana whenua.

“As always, it is such a pleasure to welcome new Kiwis to our beautiful region. They follow in the footsteps of the first migrant, Kupe who came in search of the giant octopus that had caused him fishing issues in Hawaiki”, Mayor Martin Connelly said. He wished them well in their new homeland.

Our latest citizens come from far and wide – places such as Scotland, Fiji, Italy, Australia and England. New Zealand citizens are entitled to the same privileges, and have the same responsibilities, as those born here – the right to vote, to stand for parliament or local government, to pay taxes and rates, and to have full access to education

Kaumatua Matua Abe Matenga supported by Council’s Pou Māori, Leanne Karauna, blessed the event with a karakia and mihi whakatau. The New Zealand national anthem was sung with much gusto, ably led by the Wahine Singers of Featherston.

The ceremony also provided a great opportunity for Council’s Welcoming Communities Advisor, Michaela Lloyd, to connect with our new citizens and offer her support should they need any. The Welcoming Communities programme addresses how accessible and inclusive our communities are for newcomers – namely recent migrants, former refugees, international students and relocating citizens.

All eight new citizens were given a gift to mark the occasion – a Totara cheeseboard that was crafted locally from a log that had been recovered from the waterways of the South Wairarapa, carbon dated to 1066 – something very old, for the very new.

Mayor Martin Connelly (centre) with the eight new Kiwi citizens.
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