Love common theme for Alex's newest citizens

New citizens (from left): Graham Hadley (United Kingdom), Elina Kiuru (Finland), Heloisa Thompson...
New citizens (from left): Graham Hadley (United Kingdom), Elina Kiuru (Finland), Heloisa Thompson (Australia/Brazil), Aurelie Mackenzie (France), Louise Spence (United Kingdom), Varinder Singh (India), John Midgley (South Africa), Ben Deegan (United Kingdom), Carter Hewson (15, Australia), Sarah Fookes and son Lawrence (United Kingdom), Kelly Sadal (Fiji), Mark Williamson (Australia), Nolaki Filemu, daughter Afioga Filemu (Samoa) at a citizenship ceremony in Alexandra yesterday.
Love was in the air as candidates were sworn in as New Zealand citizens at a ceremony in Alexandra yesterday.

Many of the new citizens spoke of love, not only for the beautiful scenery of Central Otago, but also for people they met in the South.

Aurelie Ibanez, now Mackenzie, was born in the South of France to a Spanish father and French mother.

She arrived in New Zealand on a working holiday in 2011, coming to Alexandra to pick cherries.

But life was "full of surprises and the unexpected" when a random choice between working at two different orchards led to love for Mrs Mackenzie.

On her first day picking she was introduced to Bob, her supervisor for the season.

At the beginning her "rebellious French blood did not impress" Bob, but towards the end of the season after a poker night - "a love story started", and in May this year they became husband and wife.

Sarah Fookes arrived from the United Kingdom in 2008 and "fell in love" with New Zealand, extending her stay.

New Zealand "captured my heart" said Graham Hadley, who arrived from the United Kingdom in 2010.

Kelly Sadal originally came to New Zealand from Fiji to play rugby for Cromwell from 2004 to 2008, and in later years represented both Central Otago and Otago Country. He is now working in the building trade, having found love with his wife Amy and children Esmae and Astyn.

Louise Spence grew up in the south of England, in Sussex, and came to New Zealand in 2005.

She met her future husband Dale at Chico's nightclub in Queenstown and "the rest is history", finding happiness in the resort town.

Moving to Cromwell in 2017, she "could not imagine" a better place to to live and bring up their children, she said.

PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON

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