New citizens take oath
It has taken 14 years but Nicola Makamba can finally celebrate New Year as a New Zealand citizen.
The young mum first came to the country in 1999 as a refugee from her native Zimbabwe.
She and her mother fled the turbulent nation as it was getting "really rough", she says.
More than a decade later she is proud she can officially call New Zealand home.
Miss Makamba was among 300 people becoming citizens at a ceremony at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau.
Among them were former citizens of Pakistan, Namibia, Iraq, Tonga, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Argentina.
Miss Makamba, an Otara resident, says it was an emotional ceremony.
The 24-year-old has had her applications for citizenship denied a number of times.
"Eventually I just gave up. I told my mum: ‘I don't want to do it'," she says.
"Then hers came through and I thought I'd try one last time."
Miss Makamba's application was finally granted just before the birth of her son Kristian, who is now 13 weeks old.
"I was so relieved. I had been thinking: ‘If I'm not a citizen, what's going to happen to him?' "
Papatoetoe resident Jayshree Sen was also among those pledging their allegiance to the Queen at the ceremony. The 34-year-old is originally from India.
She came to New Zealand in 2001 to marry her Fijian husband Nelesh, who has been here since 1996.
Both work at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare headquarters in Highbrook.
Mrs Sen has waited 12 years to become a citizen but says it was easy when she got around to it.
"I'm just lazy. My whole family got the citizenship and I'm the only one left," she says.
Mr Sen says New Zealand's peaceful nature makes him proud to call it home.
"I always say to my wife: ‘I'll never leave this place'."
More than 27,000 people were granted New Zealand citizenship in 2012, Department of Internal Affairs statistics show.
Immigrants from the United Kingdom - 5607 people - topped the list, followed by nearly 3000 each from Samoa and South Africa.