Many of those who take the oath or affirmation of allegiance at Te Ahu in Kaitaia to officially become New Zealand citizens speak about how they came to the country, and how pleased they are to be here.

Christopher Hagerty, originally from Britain and now living in Kerikeri, who said the ceremony had completed his migration journey, went much further than that last week.

He told the gathering that his family included one Aunty Katherine, aka Kitty Hagerty, who had "pitched up" in the Bay of Islands many years ago, having initially arrived in Parramatta, Australia, aboard a British convict ship. There she met fellow convict Charlotte Badger, who would be "immortalised" in the Bay by artist Lester Hall, and by the establishment of Paihia restaurant Charlotte's Kitchen.

Kitty and Charlotte had made their move after they were loaded aboard another ship bound for the penal colony in Hobart, where they really did not want to go. They succeeded in persuading the first mate to mutiny, raided the store vessel that was accompanying them and headed for New Zealand, graduating in the process from petty criminals to pirates.

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They duly landed at Rangihoua, not far from where the modern day Hagertys settled.

Charlotte died in 1807, but Kitty's fate was unknown. She had last been heard of in Tonga, and while Mr Hagerty could not prove his blood relationship with her, it was a good story, and a "great coincidence".

None of the other candidates for citizenship last week could top that, but Phil Evans, of Australian stock and now living at Kohukohu, did manage to surprise mayor John Carter, who had always assumed that he was a New Zealander.

"All these years and I didn't know," he said.

Mr Evans said he had settled in New Zealand 40 years ago, and had visited as a tourist many times before that, adding that New Zealand was the best country in the world in which to live.

Silvie Hradecka was another who had initially arrived as a tourist, 15 years ago, as a backpacker, to be precise. She had gone on to travel far and wide but returned about 10 years ago, and she and her family were "fully committed" to their future in New Zealand.

Susan O'Hearn simply said "Thank you for having me", while Peter and Catherine Rowlands had arrived six years ago, following their son and daughter-in-law.

Those who took the oath or affirmation of allegiance were:

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Nicholas, Benjamin and Abigail Caley (British, now living in Kerikeri).

Philip Evans (Australian, Kohukohu).

Setsuko Edwards (Japanese, Cooper's Beach).

Barbara Gabler (Austrian, Kerikeri).

Christopher Hagerty (British, Kerikeri).

Silvia Hradecka (Czech, Kerikeri).

Petr Lebl (Czech, Kerikeri).

Snehakumari Mistry (Indian, Kaitaia).

Susan O'Hearn (British, Kerikeri).

Winmar Reyes (Filipino, Kaikohe).

Yoanis Rivera Montoya (Cuban, Kaitaia).

Peter and Catherine Rowlands (British, Russell).

David Turley and Stephanie Dickson (British, Kaeo).

Mary and Christopher Wakeling (British, Kerikeri).

Karl Wilson (British, Kawakawa).