Kia ora to new citizens

The Tema-Esera family from Samoa, (from left) Meipo, Kika, 5, Peter, 10, Tema, 7, and Donald,...
The Tema-Esera family from Samoa, (from left) Meipo, Kika, 5, Peter, 10, Tema, 7, and Donald, became New Zealand citizens last Thursday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.
The Clutha District Council’s first citizenship ceremony at the Clutha District War Memorial & Community Centre Te Pou Ō Mata-Au (TPŌMA) was held last Thursday.

Twenty-five people from Australia, Canada, Samoa, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and Ukraine became certified New Zealand citizens, including the Tema-Esera family.

Donald Esera has been travelling back and forth from Samoa since becoming a Silver Fern Farms seasonal worker in 2013.

"2023 marked his 10th season ... 10 years of being apart for special dates like birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, kids’ first steps and words — he wasn’t able to witness any of that," Mrs Tema-Esera said in her short speech.

"Last year he said would be his last season, he missed out too much of being a father and a husband ... But sacrifices for the kids, working in New Zealand was our option to help them have a better life that we didn’t have and before the season ends we got a call that we got the resident visa. I guess God had better plans and all that has changed."

"The 4th of April 2024 is a milestone a memory that we will love to look back on, and a moment that we were most wishing for."

The ceremony, headed by council CEO Steve Hill, included a kapa haka welcome by South Otago High School students and a video presentation describing the first people to colonise the Clutha Mata-Au area.

Via video, Governor-General Cindy Kiro welcomed the new citizens, who swore an oath or affirmation to uphold the laws of New Zealand and allegiance to King Charles III as head of state.

Mayor Bryan Cadogan sent his regrets for being unable to attend but said a steady increase in the number of candidates meant TPŌMA was now better suited to the ceremony than council chambers.

"Clutha District Council hosts citizenship ceremonies on behalf of the Department of Internal Affairs to celebrate and acknowledge the new citizen’s commitment to New Zealand," Mr Cadogan said.

"Welcoming new residents will set the scene for long-term integration that enriches our district’s diversity and vitality and create lasting memories for participants."

It was the first of five citizenship ceremonies expected this year.