He may have been in New Zealand since he was 5, but only now can Rob Parry officially call himself a Kiwi.

Mr Parry, who with his wife, Linley, owns the three Rotorua McDonald's restaurants and runs the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat in Ngongotaha, was one of 33 people from 12 countries who became New Zealand citizens at a ceremony at the Rotorua Lakes Council today.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick told them it was "very special" and by making the decision to become a citizen of New Zealand they were making a real commitment to the country.

Mr Parry was born in Melbourne and came to Palmerston North when he was about 5, staying there until about 12 years ago.


Before New Zealand he had lived in Boston in the US and Oxford in England, as his father was a renowned scientist.

New Zealand felt like home and he thought it was about time he got his citizenship, Mr Parry said.

"Rotorua's the best city, it's so vibrant, energetic, diverse and unique.

"New Zealand is safe and beautiful."

The ceremony also included a kapa haka performance from Owhata Primary School pupils.

Each new Kiwi family or citizen received a book and a seedling.

Mrs Chadwick said the seedling symbolised putting roots down in the city.

The women also received a corsage and children received a pencil.

Those who became citizens included six Filipinos, one Korean, six South Africans, two Indians, two British, one Romanian, one American, one German, one Dutch, five Sri Lankans, four Fijians and one Australian.