New Kiwis celebrate Waitangi with 2000 other New Zealanders
As Waitangi Day celebrations took place around the country 24 people officially became Kiwis at a citizenship ceremony at Government House.
Hosted by the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, the administration of the oaths and affirmations of allegiance was conducted by Mayor Justin Lester.
The newest citizens reflect the changing face of New Zealand with 16 different countries represented including the United States, Asia, Africa, Europe, the Pacific Islands, and Australia.
“I can think of no better way of celebrating our national day than by hosting a citizenship ceremony and welcoming new New Zealanders into the New Zealand family,” says Reddy.
In her speech the Governor-General encouraged those present to hold on to their cultural history as they embrace their new status.
“Citizenship binds us all together as one nation.
“Your new bonds to New Zealand will never diminish the importance of your heritage, your culture and your traditions.
“They will instead bind with our heritage, culture and traditions, enriching the diversity of New Zealand society,” says Reddy.
Gemmalyn Suniga Rosete, from the Philippines has been living in New Zealand for the last seven years.
“It’s a real privilege to be here and it’s a beautiful country with lots of opportunities for citizens.”
She came to New Zealand as a nurse and fell in love with Wellington.
“It’s really compact and the people are lovely and very welcoming. I’ve been here for 7 years and I’m still here,” says Rosete.
After the short ceremony, everyone was invited to join the Governor-General’s annual Bledisloe Garden Reception.
Prime Minister Bill English and wife Mary were among 2000 in attendance that included diplomats, invited guests and member of the public who won a ticket via a ballot to attend the party.
The Governor-General gave her maiden Waitangi Day speech and drew on her time as a Treaty of Waitangi negotiator.
“The settlement process embraced by successive governments since 1975 has been so important and enables us to have confidence in a better future.”
She reflected on the significance of Waitangi Day and what New Zealand stands for.
“Our treaty asked of us that we act in good faith, value others rights and respect difference.
“These are qualities to value and affirm today and into the future.”
The New Zealand Army band provided music and guests were treated to an array of finger food and drinks.