|Not a member? Sign up now!|
Forty Far North residents have become New Zealanders at the largest and most cosmopolitan citizenship ceremony the Far North District Council has held.
About 120 people came to the Kaikohe Memorial Hall on June 15 to be granted New Zealand citizenship or witness loved ones become Kiwis.
Those who declared they would honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, obey the laws of New Zealand and be good New Zealand citizens included:
Haruru Falls couple Mark and Elena Harnden and their daughter Anna were citizens of the United Kingdom (Mark and Anna) and Ukraine (Elena) before they became Kiwis last week.
Mark first visited New Zealand in 1976 as a young deck cadet on a British merchant ship, then spent 10 years on an off sailing around New Zealand.
“I fell in love with New Zealand and its people and vowed to one day live here. I’ve now been here eight years and I’ve made it. Yee ha!”
The Harndens settled in the Far North because it had a lovely warm climate, wide open spaces and they could be near the sea.
Mark is now a jet boat operator for Auckland Jet Boat Tours, while Elena runs the Bay Adventurer backpackers hostel in Paihia.
“New Zealand and the Far North have more than lived up to my expectations and are better than I could have imagined. I love this country and I am very proud to now be a Kiwi,” Mark says.
Prakash Natesh, wife Latha Prakash Shanmugam and son Meghshyam were citizens of India before they became Kiwis.
The family moved to the Far North eight years ago to open North Indian Food and Fish and Chips in Kawakawa.
Since then, Prakash and Natesh have opened a second takeaway bar in Kaitaia and had another child, Manish.
Prakash prefers the Far North to Auckland where he was a chef for four years.
“In Auckland nobody speaks. People are very busy there. Here they are very friendly like a family. I don’t feel any bad. Everyone knows me.”
Deputy Mayor Ann Court, who officiated at the ceremony, says migrants bring new skills to the district and make its social fabric a more colourful and interesting tapestry.
“What I like most about these ceremonies are the stories people share about why they immigrated and why they picked the Far North.
“Sometimes they are love stories, sometimes they are about work opportunities and sometimes they are about reuniting families, but all of them say the same thing – New Zealand is beautiful and unique.”
“And don’t forget, each one now becomes a supporter of the All Blacks!”