City welcomes new Kiwis

Ceremony confirms citizenship for 93

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 08:05 03/09/2014
citizen
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Cosmopolitan city: Christeen Nishara De Silva, left, and Pushpa Priyanthi Maharamba Thanthirige, new citizens from Sri Lanka, inject some colour into life in Palmerston North.

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Some of them have been living here since the turn of the century but, as of yesterday, another 93 people from around the globe can now call Palmerston North home.

From Yemen, Britain, South Africa, Fiji, Bangladesh, India and other nations, the city's newest citizens took the oath or affirmation of allegiance at a ceremony led by mayor Jono Naylor at the Convention Centre.

Naylor said they brought gifts of culture and heritage that added depth and maturity to the community.

Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway said that for many the decision to become a citizen had taken many years, while others had made the move at the first opportunity.

"It's not something you have to do but because you want to cement your connection to this country, and we respect that and thank you."

The citizens were welcomed on behalf of Rangitaane by Wiremu Te Awe Awe, who challenged them to adopt the All Blacks as their home team.

Each new citizen or family group was presented with a native plant by the Multicultural Council.

One of those marking a special day in his family's adoption of New Zealand was dairy farmer Patrick De Silva, who came here in 2002 and took the oath four years ago.

Wife Pushpa Maharamba Thanthirige and daughter Christeen De Silva joined him in 2005, and yesterday followed his lead to become citizens.

He said it had been hard at first to encourage them to leave a close-knit family, but he had found good work prospects, had shown his family around, and they all made the decision to stay.

"If you work hard in New Zealand, you have more benefits than in other countries."

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