Happiness is a home in New Zealand

Gennadiy Labara (48) and Maryna Bilousova (37), originally of Ukraine, hold the kowhai plant...
Gennadiy Labara (48) and Maryna Bilousova (37), originally of Ukraine, hold the kowhai plant given to them when they became New Zealand citizens at the Dunedin Municipal Chambers yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson.

Watching the turmoil gripping their Ukrainian homeland makes Gennadiy Labara and Maryna Bilousova happier to call New Zealand home.

The pair were among a group of 40 people who were sworn in as New Zealand citizens at a ceremony at the Municipal Chambers in Dunedin yesterday.

The couple moved to Dunedin in 2006 to build a ''brighter future for ourselves and for our future family'', Mrs Bilousova said.

Having married in the Ukraine, they left their homeland in 1998 to move to Australia.

''We left [Ukraine] because we wanted stability,'' she said.

''Over there you don't always know what is going to happen the next day.''

They were tempted to New Zealand by the recommendation of a friend.

''It's a beautiful country,'' Mrs Bilousova said.

While New Zealand had felt like home ''a long time ago'', yesterday's ceremony meant ''now it's really home'', Mr Labara said.

The couple had a 3-year-old son, Andre, who was a ''Kiwi'' and, despite Mr Labara's job as a swimming coach, he hoped Andre would one day become an All Black.

The couple still had family in the Ukraine and the turmoil unfolding in the country was ''very upsetting'', Mrs Bilousova said.

''I'm very sorry for our country,'' Mr Labara said.

The pair hoped for a peaceful future for their homeland and, because of Mr Labara's mixed Russian and Ukrainian ancestry, were philosophical about the conflict.

''There's always two points of view,'' Mrs Bilousova said.

''But [Ukraine] needed some change,'' Mr Labara added.

However, the pair were looking to their future as citizens of New Zealand.

''It's great [to be citizens]. But it's not the end of the journey, it's the beginning,'' she said.

Mr Labara added: ''My dad's Ukrainian, my mum's Russian and now I'm a Kiwi.''

The other new citizens were. -Beverly Ohline (American); Masud Parvez (Bangladeshi); Roberta Falcao Oliveira Carvalho, Amilcar Oliveira Carvalho Neto (Brazilian); Michael Aucott, Lorna Aucott, John Bradley, Sarah Hewerdine, Amy Lavelle, Andrew Lavelle, Jack Lavelle, Rosemary Lavelle, Hilary Penno, Cameron Raiman (British); David Littleton (Canadian); Neil McQueen (Canadian Irish); Jun Cui (Chinese); Arsanios Fahmy, Bichoy Fahmy, Hany Fahmy, Dorette Faltes (Egyptian); Govinda Lingam (Fijian); Thomas Cardy (French); Dominik Paschke, Mattias Strulik (German); Dimal Roy (Indian); Jungwook Kwon (Korean); Kirill Ognev (Russian); Liesel Drake, Lorencia Drake, Susan Shepherd (South African); Dr Thomas Hall (St Kitts and Nevis Islander); Boonruan Priest (Thai); Minh Ha, Khanh Nguyen (Vietnamese); Ghassan Hamid (Yemeni); June Sparg, Robert Sparg (Zimbabwean).

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