A South American family are now proud Kiwis living in Taranaki.
Ricardo Guerra and wife Vivian Medina, with children Isabela, 9, and Samantha, 14, were among the 27 new citizens who were presented their New Zealand citizenship at a ceremony held at the New Plymouth District Council on Wednesday.
"It's great. It's my country," Guerra told the Taranaki Daily News when asked how he felt about his new citizenship.
He was working in Russia for an oil and gas company and the family were living in Colombia before moving to New Plymouth eight years ago.
Guerra is now a senior production technologist for Shell Todd Oil Services, (STOS), while Vivian is a housewife.
Vivian said she was happy to be able to call herself a New Zealander.
"This is our new home. We love New Zealand," Vivian said.
He said Colombians were "happy people" who loved dancing, partying and had "very strong" family ties.
The family love New Zealand for its friendly residents and relaxed environment.
"Everything here is beautiful and clean, the people are respectful and the children feel safe in their schools," Vivian said.
Medina said New Zealand's slightly relaxed schooling system allowed both Isabela and Samantha to pursue after-school activities like swimming, football, and horse riding.
In Colombia, school buses would pick children up about 5am for a 7am school start and they were dropped back home at 5pm. "It's more relaxed here to do after school activities," she said. "It's impossible there".
Guerra was born in Colombia while Medina is from Venezuela, where their daughters were born.
The family connects with a small South American community for picnics and barbecues.
Medina's two closest friends were from Ecuador and Salvador and the three women get together for gym sessions and lunches.
Guerra said he had visited various New Zealand towns but was drawn to New Plymouth for its "beautiful mountain".
"Watching the mountain is so refreshing and it says ‘I'm home'."
- Taranaki Daily News
Should NPDC sell its Tasman farms?Related story: Tasman farms in black