Becoming New Zealand citizens fulfilled a promise Augesh and Adarshni Ram made to family before leaving their homeland.
The Ram family was among the 103 people to receive their citizenship certificates at a ceremony at Hamilton Gardens this week.
Augesh Ram moved to New Zealand from Fiji in 2008, "with $500 and two suitcases of clothes," he says.
The move was the first step towards creating a new and better life for his family, but had a rocky start.
"The first day he came here, from a tropical island, it was -3 degrees," says Adarshni. "Then the recession hit."
Augesh had found work as a chef, but his hours were reduced due to the economic downturn.
"That was the hardest time of my life," he says. "I was alone. I didn't think it could get any worse than this."
Things picked up the following year when Adarshni also immigrated along with their eldest daughter, then in 2011, an opportunity to relocate to Hamilton came along.
"When we moved to Hamilton, everyone was so welcoming," says Adarshni.
"It felt like home. So, we have decided to make it our home."
Before leaving Fiji, the couple promised their parents, who supported the decision, that the move wouldn't be in vain. Receiving their citizenship meant that promise had been fulfilled.
"I don't have the words to express how it felt," says Augesh. "I can proudly say, 'look at what I have now'.
"We had planned a family vacation but we changed our mind and put the money towards becoming a citizen. That is how important it is to us. We can have a holiday next year. I am proud to have received my citizenship."
"It was just amazing, it was the best thing ever," Adarshni says. "We had finally achieved our goal."
Daughters Aushita and Adarshita also became new Kiwis, joining their brother, Aushiv, who is a citizen having been born after the Rams had permanent residency.
"My daughters asked, 'are we New Zealanders now'," says Augesh. "I said, 'yes, you are a Kiwi, you can say proudly you are a Kiwi'."
People from 26 countries including Samoa, Sri Lanka, Iran, Ireland, Brazil and Korea received their citizenship certificates from Hamilton Mayor Andrew King.
"The ceremony was so nice," says Augesh.
"We got to have a chat with the mayor and the councillors who were there, which made it extra special. It has inspired us to work even harder to achieve the things we want to do.
"We know that this community cares about us and it is a great honour for us to become New Zealand citizens."