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A welcome to new kiwis

By Julie Iles

Rajeshkumar Patel and his wife, Kinnariben, are some of Masterton’s newest Kiwi citizens. The two took part in a citizenship ceremony held yesterday at the Te Ore Ore Marae.

“It’s a really great day,” said Rajeshkumar, 37. The Patels moved from Sadakpore village in the Valsad District of India. The couple have a seven-year-old daughter, Hiya Raj, who was born at the Wairarapa Hospital in 2008, just behind her father’s business, the Hospital Food Market.  Patel has lived in Masterton for 16 years, and said making it official is far-overdue.

“I was supposed to become a citizen 10 years ago, but I didn’t apply, finally this year I applied and I’m really happy about it,” he said.

They will be celebrating their new citizenship along with the holiday of Ganesh Chaturthi with the Wairarapa Hindu community. The holiday celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. In Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesh is considered the ‘one who removes obstacles’ and is the God you first pray to in times of celebration.

“Citizenship and Lord Ganesh – it’s a really good combination,” said Patel.

The citizens were presented with a citizenship certification and young Kowhai tree in memory of the special day.

Mayor Lyn Patterson gave a welcome speech. “I want acknowledge that our district, our region, and our country are all the richer for having the diversity of cultures living here,” she said.

Those awarded citizenship came from a variety of backgrounds, and seven different cultures. The British, Filipino, Dutch, Indian, South African, Samoan, and Fijian citizens are now also New Zealanders.

Councillors Jonathan Hooker and Chris Peterson were also in attendance. Hooker is the chair of the international relations committee and has been involved in citizenship ceremonies since 2005. “I’m sure that this is by the largest that we’ve had, back when I first got involved it was very emotional because for a lot of people they actually had to physically give up the citizenship of their country of birth, whereas now you folk have the opportunity to retain both of those,” he told those gathered inside the marae.

Albert Rajesh Chand, his wife Rozleen Lalita Mandi and their children Avian and Sheryl Chand became New Zealand citizens, having come from Nadi, Fiji. Chand and Mandi are both educators in the community, who teach at Kuranui college and Solway College respectively.

“We came her for the opportunities, for our children, and for ourselves as well,” said Chand.

Milo Iefata, Mina Mila, Taeao Tafa, Fiti Tauese, and Tafa Tuputau Tafa Laulu became New Zealand citizens from Samoa.

Petra Jane Louise Stevens, Steven Gregg, Paula Ann Kennish, Michael Ferguson, and Alison Jayne Andrews, all hailing from the United Kingdom, are now also New Zealand citizens.

Rajeshkumar Subhashchandra Patel and his wife Kinnariben Pravinbhai Patel came from India to become New Zealand citizens.

Fortunato Rualo Espera, his wife Hyacinth Sapon Espera and their children, Gabriel and Mikaela Louise, as well as Jennifer Matondo Mita came from the Phillipines, all five are now New Zealand citizens.

Irma Peetoom emigrated from the Netherlands and is now a New Zeland citizen.

Johannette Hectors of South Africa also gained New Zealand citizenship yesterday.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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