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One of our own . . . After moving from India in 2007, (from left) Benjamin Johnathan (13), Benita Jonathan, Jonathan Manuel, and Beryl Jonathan became official New Zealand citizens this week. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

It was a joyous occasion as Waitaki welcomed 10 new New Zealand citizens on Monday.

Despite Covid-19 setbacks which led to ceremonies being replaced by certificates posted in the mail, the Waitaki District Council wanted to have a celebration with its new citizens, Mayor Gary Kircher said.

“You came to New Zealand and brought your life, families, and skills,” Mr Kircher said.

“It takes a lot of time and is a long process.”

The Waitaki district was made a better place by its mixture of cultures, he said.

“It’s fantastic to have you as one of our own.”

While only 10 people were sworn in at the Oamaru Opera House ceremony, it was a full house.

The crowd was made up of supporters from the Waitaki Multicultural Council, and friends and family of the new citizens, as well as members of the House of Breakthrough church who let out cheers for the newly sworn-in Jonanthan family.

Beryl Jonathan was sworn in alongside her son Benjamin (13), daughter Benita, and husband Jonathan Jay Manuel, who moved to New Zealand from India in 2007.

After living in Christchurch for eight-and-a-half years, they moved to Oamaru, where Mr Manuel set up the New Zealand Airline Academy with his business partner.

“It’s much better here than Christchurch,” Mrs Jonathan said.

She said they had always felt welcome and part of the community.

“We always felt really good.”

After being sworn in individually, the new citizens were presented with gifts by Waitaki district councillors Hana Hanalele and Jim Hopkins.

Other citizens sworn in were Dave Alferez Baricuatro, Maria Veronica Ardiente Baricuatro, Dorothy Ardiente Baricuatro (Filipino); Nolasco Salve Ysulan (Filipino); Ferdinand Kruger, Dr Elsa Elizabeth du Toit (South African).