'We always wanted to come here'

The Keniya family (from left) Dr Mikhail Keniya, Olga Keniya, Alena Plaksina and Nadya Keniya...
The Keniya family (from left) Dr Mikhail Keniya, Olga Keniya, Alena Plaksina and Nadya Keniya after this week's citizenship ceremony held in the Skeggs Gallery. Photo by Linda Robertson.
A New Zealand address was celebrated in traditional Russian dress in Dunedin this week.

The Keniya family, from Rostov On Don, in Russia, were dressed to the nines to see Olga Keniya and her eldest daughter, Alena Plaksina (20), become New Zealand citizens at a ceremony held yesterday.

The family came to New Zealand via the United States six years ago when Dr Mikhail Keniya was offered a position as a research fellow in the University of Otago division of health sciences.

''For many years, we always wanted to come here. It is such a nice place,'' he said.

''I'm a biologist and I like untouched nature and plants and birds and that feeling of freshness New Zealand has. I like the mixture of different people and cultures here.''

Mrs Keniya works as a housekeeper at the historic Fletcher House in Broad Bay and Ms Plaksina is studying design at the University of Otago.

''It has a really nice community feeling. I love it,'' Ms Plaksina said.

Dr Keniya and daughter Nadya (11) became New Zealand citizens two years ago.

Thirty-seven people were awarded citizenship at the ceremony, conducted by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, in the Skeggs Gallery on Wednesday.

''While our Maori heritage goes back over 1000 years, New Zealand is still a young country with a diverse mixture of cultures and people,'' Mr Cull said.

''Those who have come here as citizens of other countries will leave today as New Zealanders. In the years to come, you will share the customs, cultures and traditions of the communities from which you have come and this will benefit us all.''

The other new citizens were: Noor Omer Noori Al Rawe (Iraq); Karina De Los Angeles Benavides Gaez (Chile); Catherine Murray De Rooy (Britain); Atiliu Ajang Diing (Sudan); Emily Amanda Hall, Riley David Hall, Keegan Hall (Canada); Alya S.S. Hammad (Palestine); Kelly Jean Hocking (United States); Mark Van-Duren Hooper (Britain); Juo-Yu Hsiao (Taiwan); Sanat Prafullchandra Joshi, Manisha Sanat Joshi, Krisha Sanat Joshi (India); Satchiyananthani Kandasamy (Malaysia); Daniel Andrew Leahy (Papua New Guinea); Bo-Kyung Lee (Korea); Yeen Lim (Malaysia); Torpong Limchalerm (Thailand); Alexey Medvedev (Russia); Jana Sporri Morgan (Britain); Etienne Louis Nel, Amy Elizabeth Nel, Matthew Louis Nel (South Africa); Tricia Newell (Canada); Richard Powley (Britain); Ramesh Sahrawat, Shivi Balaine, Rishabh Sahrawat, Rishi Sahrawat (India); Amala Arul Sharmila Savarimuthu (India); Yvonne Louise Shields (Britain); Muthukumar Thamizhselvan (India); Tsung-Yi Tonkin (Taiwan); and Margaret Elizabeth Jane Wells (Britain).

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