50 years to become a Kiwi

By nathan.crombie@age.co.nz, Nathan Crombie

Self-confessed Mauriceville hippie Dave Clifton has just become a Kiwi after 50 years of living, working, and raising children in New Zealand.

Mr Clifton, who shares a home with partner Barbara Nightingale at the small country settlement north of Masterton, said upcoming international travel had led to his decision to swear in as a New Zealander at a citizenship ceremony in the town on Thursday

A dozen people, including two children, were confirmed as new citizens at the ceremony at the Masterton Town Hall. Their home nations included Britain, South Africa, Samoa, India and Romania.

Mr Clifton's family, originally from Cambridge, England, had lived in the United States for about five years before shifting to Wellington, where his father, Paul Clifton, wrote several books and worked as an editor for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

"My parents left Britain when everyone was still getting over the war. There were still holes in the road and bombed homes and rationing. And we left America because mum couldn't stand the anti-communist frenzy over there at the time. She reckoned New Zealand was the only place to go," Mr Clifton said.

In the 1970s Mr Clifton migrated over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wairarapa.

"I'm a hippie. In the'70s the good life was in the country so I came out here. Looking back, I don't know if it ever was the good life. It's bloody hard work."

Mr Clifton has worked in the district as a freezing worker, store assistant and handyman and now works alongside his partner at Hatuma Lime at Mauriceville, where he drives a frontend loader and completes carpentry repairs and building.

He has not returned to England since a two-year visit in the mid-1970s but travel is back on his horizon, he said, especially with a 17-year-old daughter now "in the finishing stages, if you know what I mean".

"I've been a permanent resident in New Zealand for all that time and having citizenship means getting a passport is all smoothed out," he said.

But any international journey will be a holiday only, he said. "I know when I'm well off ... there's only one New Zealand and it's Godzone."


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