Life has been very different for Rotorua's Paras family since they decided to move to New Zealand together.

The family, formerly from the Philippines, are now well settled into the Rotorua way of life and were one of five families and a total of 24 people who were made citizens of New Zealand at a ceremony held at the Rotorua Lakes Council today.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick led the ceremony with support from deputy mayor Dave Donaldson, cultural advisor Trevor Maxwell and councillors Karen Hunt and Mark Gould.

At each ceremony a local school performs a short kapa haka piece, this time it was the turn of the students from Western Heights Primary School.


Everyone who became a citizen also received a kowhai tree seedling as a gift.

Mr Paras said he moved his family to New Zealand in September 2007 after his wife convinced him that "money was not everything" and that the family should be closer together.

Before that Mr Paras was living a long way from home working in Saudi Arabia for many years.

He is now a telecommunications professional working for Chorus in Rotorua.

"My wife said we needed to be closer together as a family.

"It was a very good idea coming to New Zealand. We love living here and that's why we all decided to become citizens," Mr Paras said.

Another family becoming citizens were the Hughes family from England.

Steven Hughes, acting principal of Reporoa College, said he was offered a job by the then "lady mayoress" Sue Winters more than 10 years ago.

"We are now all well established in the education community here in Rotorua," Mr Hughes said.

His wife Gillian is the deputy principal at Kea Street Specialist School and his son James is in training to become a primary school teacher.

New citizens:

Mrs Ghunato Awomi - Indian, Mr Lalith Degambada - Sri Lankan, Mrs Damitha Makunda Gamage - Sri Lankan, Miss Dinuri Degambada - Sri Lankan, Mr Steven Hughes - British, Mrs Gillian Hughes - British, Mr James Hughes - British, Mr Ruwan Gamage - Sri Lankan, Mrs Upulie Hettiarachchi - Sri Lankan, Mrs Sandhya Kundal - Indian, Mrs Sylvia Eleanor Lee - British, Miss Manxia Li - China, Mr Ferdinand Paras - Filipino, Mrs Evelyn Magos Paras - Filipino, Mr Kent Paras - Filipino, Miss Kristia Paras - Filipino, Mr Richard Rehl Ahumada - Chilean, Mrs Mandy Rock - South African, Mrs Sarah Hurlston - British, Mr Christopher Hurlston - British, Miss Eleanor Hurlston - British, Miss Hui-Min Lo - Taiwanese, Mr Neil MacDonald - Australian, Mrs Saisunee Wellington - Thailand.