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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:33am

Mayor Sam Broughton and Major Grant Payton stand either side of an Indian man, woman and child in traditional dress

From Vladivostok to Christchurch, journeys were shared as 26 New Zealanders were welcomed home last week.

The group from 11 different nationalities shared their stories of how they came to call New Zealand home as they became New Zealand citizens in the Council’s monthly citizenship ceremony.

Each new citizen spoke of how they came to call New Zealand home, but there was a homecoming of a different kind for Tyler Hokianga.

Raised in Australia, Mr Hokianga told the room it was a visit to see his parents back here in New Zealand that sparked a desire to embrace his Kiwi heritage and officially become a Kiwi.

Nine of the group spoke about intending to visit New Zealand for a short time on holidays, work or study and finding their partner.

Among them was Candice Trumper from South Africa. “The one thing my father told me before I came was not to take up with any Kiwi boys. Well, we fell in love.”

Others spoke of falling in love with the country and the way of life. Originally from Sri Lanka, Lincoln University law lecturer Santiago Ekaratne came to New Zealand for the lifestyle after studying and working as a lawyer in Washington DC. “That was fun but I didn’t get much sleep.”

Nina Kozhevnikova from Vladivostok in Russia who came for an adventure and to visit family after her husband died, and Douglas Dorrian, who moved from Scotland to South Africa before settling here, also for adventure. “New Zealand is such a great country for all the opportunities we have – cycling, jumping off things, every day it’s great to be here.”

One of the loudest cheers of the night came for Celestina Ponseka, who moved from the Philippines to New Zealand for work and soon convinced her family to join her. “I wanted to bring my husband and daughter here to show them how beautiful New Zealand is.”