New citizens at Thursday’s first ceremony. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

Without electricity, Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson was calm under pressure on Thursday morning, as she prepared for a hall full of Masterton residents ready to swear their allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand and become New Zealand citizens. She led two ceremonies on Thursday.

“Let the toddlers run around and relax, it is easier this way and we are happy to have your children here,” she said.

Because of the power cut, Patterson said the council team had moved all the seating out of the marae into the main hall where there was daylight and, guests could wear their shoes because of the change.

Filipino women, Lorna and Arlina Ortega love their glittered shoes and rushed out to get them from the front of the marae to put on.

“They are made in the Philippines and are lovely sandals, we love the glitter and glamour of pretty shoes with our outfits,” Arlina Ortega said.

The women wore traditional dress for their citizenship ceremony. Arlina wore the floral, hand-painted Filipino silk wrap and Lorna wore a Maria Clara gown.

Both women said they were nervous, pleased and excited the day had arrived for them to become New Zealand citizens.

At the 10.30am ceremony Patterson witnessed the New Zealand oath of allegiance to the Queen of England for 22 people and presented them with their citizenship certificates.

“This is your turangawaewae, your place to stand in New Zealand. I encourage you to share your culture and your stories with us in Masterton,” Patterson said.

“Our communities are more enriched, and we will continue to celebrate and respect one another. We are pleased you have chosen Masterton as your home.”

The afternoon ceremony was held in the marae.

Thirty-nine Masterton residents from eight countries – Philippines, Britain, India, The Netherlands, Denmark, Thailand, South Africa and Samoa – became citizens on Thursday.

The female choir, the Songbirds led the national anthem firstly in Maori and then English.

These were the first Wairarapa citizenship ceremonies of the year.