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Biggest ceremony of year welcomes 25 newbies

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson welcomed 25 new citizens last week. PHOTO/ELI HILL

ELI HILL
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In the packed wharenui of Te Ore Ore Marae, 25 people became New Zealanders in Masterton District Council’s biggest citizenship ceremony of the year.

Among them were two families who had made the country their home – the Lumukana family who’d come from the Solomon Islands and the Thirsk family from South Africa.

Ruth Lumukana and husband Robson came to New Zealand for work in 2008.

She is a pharmacist at Wairarapa Hospital.

“It’s pretty good here, you know, we miss home, but we’ve created our own family here as well,” Ruth said.

“We’ve met a lot of new people here, people from where we come from as well as kiwis.

“So, it’s made it a lot easier.”

The couple have two daughters aged 13 and three, as well as a son aged eight.

Robson said the citizenship ceremony last week had been “quite emotional, but good”.

“We definitely missed home, but we’ve developed a new family.”

Although he had only just become a citizen, Robson had no doubt about his favourite rugby team.

“The All Blacks of course.”

The Thirsk family moved to New Zealand from South Africa more than seven years ago, Iain Thirsk said.

“We were looking for a place in the long term to plant the family, from which they’d feel safe to venture forth and live their lives and explore the world like we did.

“Although it was with a lot of sadness – because we love South Africa very much, especially because we won the world cup.”

He and wife Lizi are originally from the UK, and moved to South Africa in 1990, just before the elections that made it a democratic country.

“We love Wairarapa, I think it’s the most gorgeous place to live. I love tramping in the mountains.

“It’s not all roses and it’s not as easy a place to live in as you might expect. But we love living here.

“Watching the kids get on in their education and getting through university and starting to find their places in life is exciting.”

Their daughters Caroline, Rosemary, and Sophie-Marie live, work and study in Wellington, but came up to Masterton for the ceremony.

Rosemary said they’d been impressed with, how “incredibly welcoming” the ceremony was.

“It’s accepting and generous to people who come to New Zealand and we really appreciate that.”

To be accepted so humbly and graciously was a privilege, Caroline said.

“Especially when you’ve been watching the news and what’s been going on in America and how awful that is.”

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