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Welcome ... Twenty-two residents of the Waitaki district became New Zealand citizens on Monday: Front (from left), Louise McNeill, Laine Tuisani, Stella Houston, Gaye McBride, Stuart Sanderson, Lucy Sanderson, Sarah Sanderson, Luciana Kreniski Greaney, Sandra Kreniski Greaney, Heather Houston; back, Terence Crane, Pieta Holtzhausen, Leslie McNeill, Leon Ware, Beadon Fauvaka, Evangeline De Souza, Wendy Taylor-Hayhurst, Kathleen Garbett, Margaret Larder, Helen Jones, Faatau Manoa, Amelia Manoa, and Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

Welcome to our new citizens.

It was a large gathering at the Oamaru Opera House’s Empire Room this week as 22 residents became new citizens of New Zealand.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher welcomed them all, saying it was not an easy process to get here but commending them all for staying and becoming new citizens of the district.

Pieta Holtzhausen emigrated from Kenya and fell in love with the South Island. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

Pieta Holtzhausen and her husband planned to emigrate together from Kenya in 2012, but sadly he died just two weeks before they were due to leave.

She landed in Tauranga and stayed with family there before travelling to the South Island for a holiday.

“I fell in love with the place,” she said.

She soon found a job and met her partner, Laurie Henderson, and they both moved to Palmerston from Waitati because they loved it here.

 

Sandra Kreniski Greaney emigrated from Brazil after she met her husband on the internet 10 years ago.

Mother and daughter Sandra Kreniski Greaney and Luciana Kreniski Greaney came here from Brazil. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

“He flew into Sao Paulo with my wedding dress and we were married shortly after,” she said.

The couple returned to New Zealand and brought her daughter Luciana (then aged 9) with her.

They all later moved to Indonesia for a while, undertaking NGO work there before returning to Oamaru, where they set up a graphic design and videography company.

Luciana Kreniski Greaney, now a university student in Wellington studying politics and international relations, said it had been very hard to start with as she could only speak her native Portuguese.

“They put me in a special class but I learned it very quickly and now I’m at uni looking for a career with MFAT,” she said.

Evangeline De Souza, of Singapore, is now a teacher at St Kevin’s College and has found the New Zealand she was looking for. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

Evangeline De Souza, a teacher at St Kevin’s College, travelled from Singapore in 2008 to discover the New Zealand she had heard great things about and found the people in Oamaru very friendly.

“I was welcomed into the community as soon as I arrived,” she said.

She plans to stay and raise her family in Oamaru.