Belarusian couple Fanis Shakirzianau and Sviatlana
Shakirzianava with a gift kowhai seedling after becoming
New Zealand citizens at a ceremony in Dunedin this week.
Photo by Craig Baxter.
Lightly sleety rain on a bitter wind did not seem to faze
Fanis Shakirzianau and his wife, Sviatlana, as they left the
Dunedin City Council as newly sworn New Zealand citizens this
For the Belarusian couple, the wintry weather was relatively
tropical compared with the cold they have experienced in
other parts of the world.
Mr Shakirzianau was formerly the coach of the Russian,
Belarusian, South African, Slovakian (and now the New
Zealand) ice skating teams, coaching world champion and
Olympic gold medal ice skaters.
So living around ice comes with the territory.
But with coaching national ice skating teams comes a lot of
travel, and Mr Shakirzianau (59) said the coldest place he
has lived was the 11 years he spent in Siberia.
There, the temperature could fall as low as -46degC and it
was dark for three months of the year, he said.
''We are not bothered by [the] weather here.''
Despite living in many different countries over the years, Mr
Shakirzianau said they decided to settle in New Zealand and
gain residency because of its very special character.
''We just like this country. We like the people and the
country is just beautiful.
''It is very difficult to find these two attributes together
in one country. It is why we want to settle here.''
Mrs Shakirzianava (51), a keen photographer, agreed.
''We are loving New Zealand. It is a beautiful country, with
friendly people, lovely atmosphere.
''I love to take photos of anything and everything. I am a
Mrs Shakirzianava is an activity co-ordinator at the St Clair
Park Residential Centre, and the couple's daughter, Marina,
lives in Auckland where she, too, is an ice skating coach.
Mr Shakirzianau and Mrs Shakirzianava were among 40 people to
swear allegiance to the Queen before Dunedin Mayor David Cull
at the Skeggs Gallery this week.
• Others to become New Zealand citizens were: Leanne
Anderson (Britain), Albert Leslie Bagnall (Britain), Kevin,
Karen, Daniel and Ellie Bosworth (Britain), Jenny Chamberlain
(Britain), Jack Curley (Britain), Lielt Mulatu Asfaw
(Ethiopia), Le Roux Fincham-Putter (South Africa), Craig
(Britain) and Ann Findlay (Belgium), Kundai Jamela
(Zimbabwe), Sasithorn Jarisu (Thailand), Yair Yaacov Kohn and
Nurit Kohn-Segev (Israel), Kwai Loong Lee (Malaysia), Seow
See Ng (Malaysia), Sam Lee (Malaysia), Rina Levy (Israel),
Ilan Avraham (Israel), Helen Lower (United States), Jing Luo
(China), Faye Nelson (Canada), Bryson Malmberg (Canada),
Yohanes Nursalim (Indonesia), Paula O'Brien (Britain),
Shammika Rashad Edirimuni and Deshika Nilmini Rodrigo (Sri
Lanka), Chethaka Rahul, Anuki Disara and Tenuri Ehara
Edirimuni (United States), Soban Singh (India), Mark Stewart
(Britain), Alapasita Lusana Teu (Tonga), Tuan Anh Tran
(Vietnam), Stephanie Lind Wei Wong (Malaysia), Calvin Lyn Zao