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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:46am

It’s around 10,000 kilometres from Vladivostok, Russia to Lincoln – and it’s also been a long journey for new New Zealand citizen Yulia Potts.

Yulia and her daughter Elina, from Russia’s far east, were two of the Selwyn residents who received New Zealand citizenship at a ceremony in Rolleston this month.

Yulia and Elina arrived in Canterbury in 2007 – but it was a stop in China that led them here. Yulia met her future husband, a Kiwi, during a visit to Beijing 14 years ago. “When he told me he was from New Zealand I thought that’s just so far away, and nothing would come of it,” Yulia says. “But in the end we decided – why not?”

The family initially settled in Christchurch, and were buying their first home when the earthquakes intervened. “So we built a house in Lincoln, and settled there. We’ve been here about four years, and we’re absolutely loving it here. I do art classes at home for children, I’m very much into the community, and we’ve got to know lots of beautiful people.”

Elina, who attends high school in Christchurch, was born in Russia and still remembers a bit of what it was like. “It’s very different here, but I’m enjoying it. I really enjoy the clear air, the weather and places to walk.”

Yulia says becoming a New Zealand citizen was very special. “It was a long journey, but it is very, very heartwarming for me,” she says.