Weather great for ceremony

A group of newly minted New Zealand citizens pose for a photo following their citizenship...
A group of newly minted New Zealand citizens pose for a photo following their citizenship ceremony in Wanaka on Tuesday. Seated in the front middle are (left) Queenstown Lakes District councillor Barry Bruce, deputy mayor Quentin Smith and Wānaka Upper Clutha Community Board chairman Simon Telfer. PHOTO: REGAN HARRIS
Both Wānaka and the weather rolled out the red carpet for the region’s newest citizens on Tuesday, as the town held the Queenstown Lakes District’s final citizenship ceremony for the year.

Hosted by the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) at the Lake Wānaka Centre, the event saw citizenship granted to 70 people from 20 countries, including Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Italy, South Africa and Poland.

Friends and family watched as each newly minted citizen was presented with a citizenship certificate as well as a native plant, sourced by Wānaka-based Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust.

In a speech before the formalities, QLDC deputy mayor Quentin Smith said becoming a citizen of New Zealand was a "life-changing moment", but also asked those present to not "set aside one nationality for another".

"Today I ask you to give our country the precious gift of your culture, your history and your language and in this way make our nation all the richer.

"You have chosen to make Queenstown Lakes District your home. In doing so, you join with our story, with that of our region, and you become part of our heritage."

QLDC Councillor Craig Ferguson, who led the ceremony, acknowledged the event might have been bittersweet for those with family who remained overseas and were therefore unable to join the festivities.

"I’m sure there are a lot of family members across all corners of the globe, looking at our list here this afternoon, who are with you today as you arrive as a New Zealand citizen and enjoy what the future holds for you in the Queenstown Lakes District."

Wānaka Primary School’s kapa haka group closed the ceremony with a performance of the national anthem and two waiata they prepared especially for the event.

The new citizens then joined Mr Smith, QLDC councillor Barry Bruce and Wānaka Upper Clutha Community Board chairman Simon Telfer for a photo beside Bullock Creek, followed by an afternoon tea with community leaders.

According to data released by Statistics New Zealand, the Queenstown Lakes district was New Zealand’s fastest-growing territorial authority area in the year ended June 2023.

The district grew by 8% (or 3900 people) in that time, following lower growth in 2022 (1.5%).