More than 30 people from seven countries have been welcomed as new Kiwis at a citizenship ceremony in Rotorua - and one is already planning to defend our country.

At the ceremony at Rotorua Lakes Council today, mayor Steve Chadwick welcomed the new citizens with a verse.

"To our distinguished visitors, from the many cultures and creeds, you have been blown by the great clouds of Tawhirimatea, you have conquered the great ocean of Kiwa, you have traversed mother earth, Papatuanuku. Welcome, welcome to this land, Aotearoa - land of the long white cloud."

She said Rotorua's population was growing and because of that the council was having more citizenship ceremonies.


"It's important to welcome you and we love having you here," she told the crowd.

James Liu, 18, from Australia became a citizen during the ceremony and said he had just enrolled in the New Zealand Army.

"I think New Zealand is a beautiful country, many people that I have met in Australia say New Zealand is heaven on earth," he told the Rotorua Daily Post after the ceremony.

"The Kiwi character is taking care of people, forgiveness and caring for others. When I'm deployed I want to show the Kiwi character to those overseas."

He said he thought Rotorua was a wonderful city.

"It's a bit smelly, but it's something special and you could never find somewhere else like Rotorua. The cultural side is amazing."

New district councillor Raj Kumar attended his first citizenship ceremony and he thought it was wonderful.

"I think it's very good, it's good that they make you take ownership and they let you tell a bit about yourself."

He said it was good to have friends and family present for those going through the ceremony.

The ceremony also included kapa haka items from Rotokawa School. New citizens received a book titled Choice and a seedling.

Mrs Chadwick said the seedling was to plant in a special place so new citizens could put their roots into the community. The women also received a corsage.

Five Fijian, eight South African, seven Filipino, two Australian, five Zimbabwean, two Indian and two British people became citizens.