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Source: Auckland Council

New citizens were welcomed with joy and celebration into the Puketāpapa community at a citizenship ceremony held after a long hiatus due to the COVID–19 pandemic.

Puketāpapa Local Board area is New Zealand’s most ethnically and culturally diverse area, with over half of the residents born outside Aotearoa.

“We hosted our last local citizenship ceremony just before the first lockdown, on March 16th 2020, and it was an express ceremony to reduce risk.  It’s been wonderful, after over a year, to be able to acknowledge our new citizens here in their own community again and fully honour their special day,” says Puketāpapa Local Board Julie Fairey.

Kaumātua Papa Fred Holloway opened the ceremony held in late June at the Fickling Centre. The happy whanau, families and friends cheered and clapped as people received their New Zealand citizenship.

Jacqueline and Adam Mckenzie, attending the ceremony, have lived in Puketāpapa for half the time since they moved to New Zealand from Europe.

“The area is very community-focused, and we love the people here,” says Jacqueline. “It’s very diverse and close to everything with good public transport and schools.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Adam who says, “We live close to the War Memorial Park and enjoy going to the Cultural Festival. There is always plenty to do with the kids too.”

Manasee Joshi, pictured above becoming a New Zealand citizen, said “It’s overwhelming. Being Indian is a part of our identity so in the beginning it was a struggle to think of being anything else. But then I realized that even if I become a New Zealand citizen, it doesn’t mean I am going to have to give up being Indian. This is a beautiful country and I love being a part of it and a part of this beautiful culture.”

“We’ve lived here ever since moving to New Zealand in 2012. All our friends live here, the local shops are great, like the Indian shops and the location is central,” says Jatin Waichal, also attending the ceremony.