Seven individuals were granted New Zealand citizenship during an intimate ceremony at Ngatipa yesterday.
The event was hosted by New Zealand High Commissioner Tui Dewes – her first since arriving in Rarotonga earlier this month to begin her post.
Yesterday’s event was conducted with a different twist from previous citizenship ceremonies, as Dewes performed a powhiri (a traditional New Zealand Maori welcome) to welcome dignitaries and guests.
Before addressing attendees, Dewes also began with a song composed by a “kuia” - an elderly New Zealand Maori woman - who she said would sing it as a daily homage to the sun.
“I selected it because like today, it’s particularly special, as well as being considered a karakia, or prayer,” she said.
“It’s seen as an ode to life, a new start, which seems particularly apt especially for those here who are embarking on new beginnings as New Zealanders.”
During her address, she spoke of New Zealand’s diversity – something which she says is to be embraced.
“Being part of an occasion with people from Kiribati, Fiji, Germany, and Switzerland, consciously choosing New Zealand as the place they want to link their identity to, that is something that gives me a sense of pride,” said Dewes.
Andreas Demmke, who works at the New Zealand High Commission, was among those granted New Zealand citizenship and was chosen to speak before taking the oath.
His speech drew from his experience working in the high commission as well as his path to becoming a New Zealander, which included meeting his Cook Island partner in New Caledonia nearly 25 years ago.
“I have attended many citizenship ceremonies, which always were my favourite occasions to be at Ngatipa, because every time there are only happy faces all around,” he said.
“The path to Kiwi citizenship is different for all of us.”
Also receiving New Zealand citizenship were Takaia Bakoauea and Lisa Faletiute of Kiribati, Tofiga Injimo and Timothy Teulilo of Fiji, Maja Poeschko of Germany, and Mary Souter of Switzerland.