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Philippa Lawlor, pictured with TCDC Mayor Len Salt, is one of New Zealand’s newest Kiwis. Photos: KELLEY TANTAU

Thames-Coromandel welcomes new Kiwis

A mum and dad from Brazil now have the same citizenship as their Kiwi-born children, while for others, becoming a New Zealander has been a decades-long process.
Hugo Bonnel and his wife Anelise Muller are two of Thames-Coromandel’s newest citizens, after receiving their citizenship certificate at an event last month.
“It’s been almost 18 years,” Hugo said, “and in this country we have our two beautiful daughters, and now I am the same level as they are, because they were citizens before me.”
Len Salt, hosting his first citizenship ceremony as Mayor, said he was “thrilled” to see so many new Kiwis at the event on December 15.
“New Zealand is a unique community stemming from the uniting of two cultures… from early history, people of New Zealand have welcomed new residents and by doing so, have enriched the social, cultural, and heritage of this country,” he said.
“Many people have undergone difficulties and hardship to come to this country. You have uprooted yourselves from your country of birth and the places and customs you have known. To do so required courage and determination, such qualities are valuable anywhere; in the future they will be of benefit to you and our country.”
Of the 24 new citizens, one was Thames-Coromandel District Council’s district manager Dean Allen, who has been in the country for more than 20 years.
“It’s really great that we can all be here today,” he told the crowd. “And I’m really pleased that my family was able to make it. They just happened to be on holiday from the UK, so it’s good to see you here, mum and dad.”
“I’m just very grateful,” John Gaffikin-Cowan, from Northern Ireland, said. “Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of your wonderful country.”
The citizenship ceremony was attended by roughly 80 whanau, and it was the first time the event had been able to be held since June, 2021, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Citizens hailed from countries including Brazil, the UK, South Africa, Germany, and Uzbekistan.
One new citizen suggested the group get together for a reunion in “10 years or so”.
Meanwhile, on December 14, Hauraki District Council held its citizenship ceremony, where 20 new citizens were officially welcomed to the country.