The first of two "catch-up" citizenship ceremonies planned over a 15-day period was staged at the Napier City Council Chamber last Monday night.

The ceremony, hosted by Napier Mayor Bill Dalton, saw 33 new Kiwis take the official oath or affirmation of allegiance.

Topping the list in terms of nationalities were 12 new arrivals from Samoa.

South Africans were second on the list with 11 followed by four from Great Britain and two from the United States. There were also individuals from China, India, France and Fiji. The second citizenship ceremony will be staged on February 9, with a third likely to be held in late March or early April to cope with the numbers coming through.

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The previous ceremony was carried out last November, and since then the numbers of people in the greater Napier region who who applied through the Department of Internal Affairs for citizenship had grown to just over 90.

"Our council chamber can only accommodate 40 new citizens and their guest at a time," Napier City Council committee administrator Judy Buttery said.

"Hence the two ceremonies in quick succession."

After taking the oath and joining in the singing of the New Zealand national anthem last Monday, each new Kiwi was presented with a small kowhai tree to plant - to signify the putting down of roots in their new country.

The nationality listing was something of a reversal of overall statistics which show that people from the UK top the national list, followed by South Africa, the Philippines and then Samoa.

Among the latest Samoan arrivals who took the oath last Monday was a family of five and a family of three.

Since New Zealand citizenship was introduced back in 1949 more than 747,500 people had become new Kiwis.