After spending eight months as a captive of terrorists in Iraq, one of New Zealand's newest citizens says being able to call himself a Kiwi feels like a "dream".

Shamshoon Al-Brwary was one of 26 people from 16 different countries to receive citizenship at a special Waitangi Day ceremony at Government House in Wellington yesterday.

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy administered the oaths and affirmations of allegiance at yesterday's ceremony, which was hosted by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and his wife Lady Janine.

Mr Al-Brwary, 65, originally from Iraq, has been in New Zealand for five years.


He said he was heading home to celebrate his daughter's birthday about seven years ago when he was captured by a "terrorist party" in Baghdad. He was told his family had to pay a bounty of $20,000 or they would kill him.

Mr Al-Brwary said he rang his family and instead of asking for the money, he told them to leave the country.

"So they left the country and went to Syria and told their story to the United Nations."

His family were sent to New Zealand to live because his wife's sister moved here in 1992.

Mr Al-Brwary remained captive for eight months. Mr Al-Brwary said when he finally managed to escape, he ran more than 12km to his brother's house for help.

The next week he fled to Syria, and from there he was sent to New Zealand to meet his wife.

Mr Al-Brwary - who has two daughters, one son, two grandsons and one granddaughter - now works a small paper round and saves all the money he makes for his grandchildren.

His wife and daughter became citizens at a ceremony last year, and Mr Al-Brwary said he was pleased it was now his turn.


"Today I am in a nice dream."