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Following in Kupe’s footsteps

South Wairarapa gained eight new citizens recently, with people from across the world choosing to make the region their home.

In a ceremony last week, a group of eager residents gathered at Featherson’s Anzac Hall to swear allegiance to Aotearoa.

South Wairarapa mayor Martin Connelly said it was always a pleasure to welcome new Kiwis to the district.

“They follow in the footsteps of the first migrant, Kupe, who came in search of the giant octopus that had caused him fishing issues in Hawaiki.”

He said he wished them well in their new homeland.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] said the district’s latest citizens came from far and wide, with home nations including Scotland, Fiji, Italy, Australia, and England.

New Zealand citizens are entitled to the same privileges and have the same responsibilities as those born here – the right to vote, to stand for parliament or local government, to pay taxes and rates, and to have full access to education.

Cobblestones trustee Janette Wallace Gedge was one of the eight new citizens.

She said she arrived in New Zealand from Ayrshire in Scotland 40 years ago on an ‘OE’ [overseas experience].

“My then-husband was offered a job over the other side of the world.

“We arrived in Auckland, and I thought ‘what have we done.’ Not a single highrise in sight.”

Gedge said Robert Muldoon was prime minister when she landed and remembered his deputy on the radio saying something outrageous: “The unemployment problem would be solved if all the women went back home to where they belonged.”

She said the comment almost made her drive off the road in shock.

However, Gedge said she fell in love with New Zealander’s attitude to life and found a job working with the Sunday News and later with the New Zealand Women’s Weekly business development team.

“I introduced makeovers there, everyone loved them.”

Gedge said after she and her husband went their separate ways, she met a “lovely New Zealand bloke who plays the guitar and sings”.

“Who could not love that?”

She said Friday’s ceremony was “absolutely wonderful”.

SWDC said the New Zealand national anthem led by the Wahine Singers of Featherston was sung with “much gusto”, and said the ceremony also provided a great opportunity for welcoming communities advisor, Michaela Lloyd, to connect with the community.

The welcoming communities programme assessed how accessible and inclusive South Wairarapa communities were for newcomers; especially recent migrants, former refugees, international students, and relocating citizens.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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