Fears of missing furry hug behind citizenship decision

Joanne Smith hugs Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull at a citizenship ceremony at the Clifford Skeggs Gallery in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Joanne Smith hugs Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull at a citizenship ceremony at the Clifford Skeggs Gallery in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A Londoner became a New Zealander in Dunedin yesterday so she wouldn't miss out on a "furry hug'' with Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.

Joanne Smith, a neighbour and friend of Mr Cull's for nearly 20 years, said she feared if she didn't become a New Zealander soon, Mr Cull might not stand for re-election and she'd miss her chance to have him be part of her citizenship ceremony.

After swearing allegiance to the Queen in the Municipal Chambers yesterday, the Higher Education Development Centre personal assistant opted to hug the mayor rather than the usual handshake.

"I couldn't imagine shaking Dave's hand.''

The mayoral robes made the hug "quite furry''.

The process of becoming a citizen took time and when she lodged her application Mr Cull had not declared he would stand for the mayoralty again.

"I really wanted him to do the ceremony, so I was really pleased.''

Mrs Smith (55) came to New Zealand with her sister 29 years ago to visit their father, who moved to this country after marrying "a Kiwi''.

On seeing New Zealand for the first time, she said to her sister: "What are we doing in London? We should be here''.

"It was all meant to be and it all fell in place ... this country has given me so much more than London ever did.''

Since moving to New Zealand, she had married Lindsay Smith, who was born and raised in Dunedin. The couple have two children, Rebecca and Riley.

The family celebrated last night with a dinner at an Italian restaurant.

However, she told her daughter Rebecca Smith, a vet in Ranfurly, not to risk coming to the ceremony or celebration because heavy snow could stop her returning home today.

Other new citizens:

Kisione Ahotaeiloa, Matamoana Ahotaeiloa (Tonga); Raquel Sollestre Barcos, Ricardo Barcos, John Elijah Sollestre Barcos, Aleen Kaye Sollestre Barcos (Philippines); John Campbell Barton, Daniel James Barton, Molly Helene Barton (Britain); Ekaterina Borisova (Russia); Consorcia Perfecto Cabale, Rhea May Dologuin Cabale, Deo Perfecto Cabale, Derek Migs Dologuin Cabale (Philippines); Ciju Chacko (India); Jocelyn Pey Sia Chua (Malaysia); Constantin Dumitrescu, Ileana Mihaela Dumitrescu (Romania); Merewai Tapukitea Lave Durutalo (Fiji); Catharina Hester Johanna Hauman, (South Africa); Dr John Hodgson Hauman (Namibia); Marguerite Gabrielle Hunter (Northern Ireland); Liniya Kumarage Pavani Anuththara Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka); Nimmy Joseph (India); Balazs Istvan Kiglics (Hungary); Wendy Broatch King (Britain); Jennifer Marcos O'Callaghan (Philippines); Indrawati Oey (Belgium); Rocio Paez Molina (Mexico); Daniel Garcia Paez (Mexico); Koyal Karishma Reddy-Hutyado (Fiji); Yeon Joo Rew (Korea); Steven John Rollason (Britain); Francesca Jayne Rollason (Britain) Andrew Jones Sarman (India); Matteo Scoz (Italy); Joanne Smith (Britain); Samnang Tep (Cambodia); Nicholas Anthony Ward (Britain).


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