New citizens welcomed 

Covid’s tentacles even stretch to citizenship ceremonies. 

A new cluster of naturalised New Zealanders attended a ceremony in Te Awamutu on Friday, and mayor Jim Mylchreesnoted that, thanks to Covid, the number of such events – and the number of new citizens – had fallen. 

He said the district did not host any citizenship ceremonies in 2020 – they were usually held each month. 

“Normally we would be holding these events monthly with around 25-30 people becoming citizens at these ceremonies but today (Friday) we only have eight here,” he said. 

The immigration sector in New Zealand has struggled over the last year due to Covid and a casualty of that was funding to local councils to hold citizenship ceremonies – many new citizens were receiving their papers through the mail. 

“It did make us think do we still hold it with this few people?” Jim said. 

“But the day is a big moment for them in their lives and it is something we want to help celebrate with them, because despite how many are their it doesn’t make this day any less special.” 

For some of the eight who celebrated becoming New Zealand citizens it was a day which has been a long time coming. 

Ben Peters moved to New Zealand in 2004 for a job and always thought about moving back home to England. 

Now he is based in Cambridge with his wife and two boys he sees New Zealand as home. 

“People always tend to move back home when they want to start a family and that was something I thought I would always do but sixteen odd years later and I’m still here, so this place is definitely home now,” he said. 

“Better late than never, right? 

John and Hazel Anwell moved to Te Awamutu around six years ago following their three children to be closer to them and haven’t looked back since making the move. 

“We made the move out here from the UK to be closer to our kids, but New Zealand really feels like home now.” 

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