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Welcome ... New Zealand's newest citizens (back, from left) Uwe Grasmueck (Germany) and Manie Bruwer (South Africa); (front) Sylvia Ursula Grasmueck (Germany), Alma Salano (Philippines), Kirby Aldrin Salano Dizon (Philippines), Betty May Ralph (Australia), Gallan Pierre Lamong Arsi (Philippines) and Stephanie Jessica Miller Smith (USA) join Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher to celebrate the milestone on Monday. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Watching rugby and wearing gumboots might soon become the norm for eight new citizens of New Zealand.

New Zealand’s newest citizens gathered together to be sworn in at a Waitaki District Council ceremony at the Oamaru Opera House on Monday.

Upon receiving their citizenship certificates, each person was given a plant from the council.

Pupils from Fenwick Primary School attended the ceremony to sing the national anthem.

Citizens who were sworn in originally came from the United States, Germany, South Africa, Australia, and the Philippines.

Mr Kircher was thrilled to be able to officially welcome the group at the ceremony.

Attending a citizenship ceremony was an important step for international people wanting to become New Zealand citizens, he said.

Manie Bruwer was one of the new citizens.

Mr Bruwer’s wife and two children turned up to celebrate the milestone with him.

“I’m ecstatic – it’s such a lovely country and I love it,” he said.

Mr Bruwer hailed from Douglas, in South Africa’s Northern Cape.

The gift of having freedom in New Zealand was particularly special for Mr Bruwer.

“I love the freedom – where I come from, you don’t have it.

“You feel safe here. You can do things”

Mr Bruwer also has other family members who live in New Zealand, including his parents, grandparents and a twin brother.

He arrived with his brother after his parents shifted to New Zealand.

“I was a little late getting over,” he joked.

“When we got here, there was just so much opportunity.”

He started out in the Wairarapa and then eventually shifted down to North Otago, where he works for Hi-Flo Plumbing.

This year would mark his 10th year living in New Zealand.

North Otago was a place he could see himself raising his children and retiring in the future, Mr Bruwer said.