Christchurch Town Hall has hosted a citizenship ceremony for the first time since the 2010-11 earthquakes.
In all, 160 new citizens were officially welcomed at a special gathering in the Limes Room on Monday evening – nine years after the last Town Hall ceremony.
The Bayson family, from Halswell, are proud New Zealand citizens.
Among the new citizens are a Halswell family of five originally from the Philippines.
Romualdo Bayson, a metal machinist, his wife, Romina, a community support worker, and their three children, Zyromme, 17, Xij Stephen, 14 and Qyn Icelrose, 11, are now officially Kiwis.
Mr Bayson says that the citizenship ceremony “affirms that we are accepted here”.
“We have chosen to become New Zealand citizens because we love New Zealand, the people, the weather, and the beauty of this country,” he says.
“We enjoy being here and we are planning to live and retire here. We want to see our children succeed in our new home.”
Mr Bayson came to New Zealand following a job offer in 2012 and soon believed that the country would provide his children with more opportunities.
He later applied for residency under the skilled migrant scheme.
Mr Bayson believes there are many benefits for his family in their new home.
“However, the most important of all is that we feel secure and safe, and the weather makes my family healthier,” he says. “We enjoy Christchurch a lot. It’s a quiet, beautiful place.
“I just want to thank you people of New Zealand for accepting us here.”
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel welcomes the return of the citizenship ceremonies to the Town Hall.
“This is the true civic heart of our city, and it makes our citizenship ceremonies very special indeed,” she says.
” I love the role of formally welcoming new citizens every month. Each one of us, or our ancestors, made a journey to make New Zealand home – whether by waka, by ship or by plane.
“It is that journey we all have in common and that is one of the foundation stones of our nation. There is a story behind each of these journeys. It is sharing those stories with each other that builds enduring relationships, based on mutual respect and understanding. It is the culmination of those stories that adds another rich chapter to our history as a city and as a nation,” the Mayor says.
Nearly 30 different nationalities were represented at Monday night’s ceremony, including Indian, British, Afghani, South African, Fijian, Thai, Zimbabwean, Chinese, Korean, Jordanian, German, French, Irish, Nepalese, Malaysian, Bhutanese, Taiwanese, Australian, Samoan, American, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Czech, Papua New Guinean, Bolivian, Canadian and Dutch.
Twenty-two of the new Kiwis are aged under 14.