Becoming a Kiwi on Waitangi Day

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 13:53 06/02/2014
Yamin and Leena Daradkeh
Kirk Hargreaves
Yamin, 3, and Leena Daradkeh, 5, from Jordan, at the citizenship ceremony at Rapaki Marae on Waitangi Day.

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Yamin Daradkeh, 3, and sister Leena, 5, from Jordan, are among hundreds enjoying a sunny citizenship ceremony at Rapaki Marae today.

Today is the first time the Banks Peninsula marae has hosted a citizenship ceremony, which is when people pledge their allegiance to New Zealand and receive their certificate of citizenship from the mayor. 

The citizenship ceremony was part of the Waitangi Day celebrations at the marae.

Yamin and Leena's parents, Reham Bani Baker and Mohammad Daradkeh moved to New Zealand from northern Jordan, which is one of the main entry points for refugees fleeing conflict in Syria. Baker arrived six years ago, following her husband.

"With any conflict it is always the normal people like us that become the victims and it is people like us who can't do anything about it," Daradkeh said.

"So it is better to try to stay away. So we are here."

Christchurch was good for their children, Bani Baker said.

"It is safe here."

Marae volunteer Ripeka Paraone said 25 candidates from 11 countries, some wearing traditional national clothing, received their certificates from Mayor Lianne Dalziel. 

"They are just loving the experience. It's bringing all sorts of people and cultures together," Paraone said. 

"It's just fabulous. We're just waiting for our hangi to come out of the ground."

About 250 guests were welcomed onto the marae with a haka powhiri about 10.30am, with dignitaries in attendance including the mayor, Green Party MP Eugenie Sage, city councillors and community board members.

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- The Press

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