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Last modified: 16 Mar 2021 1:40pm

The Tomu family from Tonga with Mayor Sam Broughton and a representative from Burnham Military Camp at the citizenship ceremony

A long wait to celebrate together with new Kiwis came to an end last week.

The first citizenship ceremony in a year was held in the Council chambers on Wednesday. The ceremony saw 28 New Zealanders from 12 different countries ranging from Saudi Arabia to Colombia, Canada and the United Kingdom take the oath or affirmation to officially become Kiwi.

Citizenship ceremonies were paused nationwide in March last year due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, with the Department of Internal Affairs giving the go-ahead for ceremonies to return this month.

In the meantime, new citizens have received their citizenship by mail, but it was good to be able to come together again and mark the event, Mayor Sam Broughton says.

“One of our strengths in Selwyn is our diversity and the way that we have built a community that embraces new people. The citizenship ceremonies are a special time for new citizens to celebrate the day, but also for us to welcome them and what they bring to Selwyn.”

The ceremony opened with a moving moment as Khalid Alsulaiman walked to the front of the room and read his affirmation, despite still being in recovery from surgery for a brain tumour that had affected his speech and ability to walk. Dr Alsulaiman came to New Zealand from Saudi Arabia to complete a PhD at Lincoln University, where he went on to teach.

The new citizens shared stories of how they came to Aotearoa from falling in love with the country while on holiday here, to moving for work or studies.

Christchurch Multi-cultural Council President, Surinder Tandon also attended as part of the district and the Multi-cultural Council’s work to help new arrivals feel welcome and settle here.