Kiwis’ giving nature impresses new citizen

Central Otago residents were granted citizenship via the postal service due to Covid restrictions...
Central Otago residents were granted citizenship via the postal service due to Covid restrictions. Getting together this week to celebrate with Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan (right) are new New Zealand citizens (from left) Benjamin Porte (France), Susan Geh (United Kingdom), Jarukij (Kwan) Matheson (Thailand), Lance De Villiers (South Africa), Carolyn Young (Australia) and Pallas Cotter (United States). PHOTO: CENTRAL OTAGO DISTRICT COUNCIL
"When they have nothing to give, they give a little more."

That is how newly christened New Zealander Benjamin Porte feels about New Zealanders.

The 34-year-old was one of a group of Central Otago residents granted citizenship during Covid-19 restrictions.

Because of lockdown the Central Otago District Council was unable to host a ceremony to mark the occasion.

The recipients received citizenship certificates in the post but last week the council decided to invite them to an informal reception.

Mr Porte, who is from France, first visited New Zealand in 2005.

He returned in 2011 when he decided to make Cromwell home.

His arrival coincided with the Christchurch earthquakes — something which would shape his opinion of New Zealanders.

"[They] show strength together as a community to show kindness and when they have nothing to give, they give a little more. I felt I was part of New Zealand from that day on and what a privilege it has been."

Working in the construction industry, he is proud of his contribution to help rebuild Christchurch before moving to Otago.

South African Lance De Villiers was also one of those granted citizenship.

He said the occasion, while informal, was special to mark.

He moved to New Zealand in 2006. For him it had always been on the bucket list and the rugby culture made the transition an easy one.

Mr De Villiers and his partner Cherece Vorster, who was granted citizenship last year, have four children: Grace (11), Quade (9), Preston (6) and Belle (3) De Villiers. The family lives in Cromwell.

The pair had planned to get married this year but it had to be postponed due to lockdown. Mr De Villiers said the ceremony was a nice end to a tough year.

"It was been a weird road and it has been a long road to where we have got to. But this feels great after the time, the effort and blood, sweat and tears. It has been amazing."

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