The karanga calling about-to-be-New Zealanders into their citizenship ceremony this Thursday will be hailing the largest group Hastings has ever hosted.
One hundred and fifteen people from 14 different countries will pledge their oath or affirmation and become citizens of New Zealand.
Citizenship ceremonies have traditionally been held every second month by Hastings District Council, occasionally more often to cope with demand, with a maximum of 30 per ceremony. To cope with numbers the ceremonies will be held monthly from now.
The saying of the oath or affirmation at an approved Citizenship Ceremony marks the moment at which the applicant becomes a New Zealander. The ceremonies are held by district and city councils. The Department of Internal Affairs, which oversees the process, says everyone over the age of 14 must attend a ceremony to make their oath or affirmation. “From then on the person making the oath or affirmation has a duty of loyalty to New Zealand, as represented by the nation’s head of state.”
Mayor Lawrence Yule officiates at the Hastings ceremonies, assisted by the Ambassador of Hastings, councillor Henare ’Keefe. They are usually held in the chambers of Hastings District Council.
However, this time, because of the sheer number of people it is being held at Lindisfarne College. The crowd could grow to more than 300, if they all brought friends and family.
Mr O’Keefe said the importance of the occasion could not be over-stated.
“They can be very emotional” for the new citizens. “For some, they have come from a not very happy place and they see New Zealand as a sanctuary which has taken them in and offered them safety and a new future.
He said being able to be involved in such an important phase in people’s lives was a “real honour”. “We try and give them an evening that in all the right ways they will remember for the rest of their lives. It is a huge honour to be able to welcome these people into the hearts and minds of our community.”
4 October 2017
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