Despite the dreary day outside, Rotorua's newest citizens had plenty to smile about inside the Rotorua Lakes Council chamber this afternoon .

"It's raining tears of joy, it must be for your citizenship" mayor Steve Chadwick said as she addressed the group of 26, and their friends and family.

"It's a big decision to become a citizen, something we who are born here take for granted. We do not even think about it.

"You come from 'ngā hau e whā' the four corners of the world and that makes our country so much richer ... Welcome to this land, the Land of the Long White Cloud."


The mayor was joined by her deputy Dave Donaldson and councillors Raj Kumar, Karen Hunt, Trevor Maxwell and Mark Gould.

Dr Margriet Theron, the president of the Rotorua Multicultural Council, was also among the crowd.

Polished performances by the Whakarewarewa School kapa haka group filled the chamber with waiata and haka before each new citizen was invited to the front.

They were given a kohuhu seedling "to put their roots down" in Rotorua as well as a corsage for the women, a book for the men and a pen for the children.

Kathleen Bollen, originally from Northern Ireland, was the first on the list.

The 69-year-old has been living in New Zealand since she was 18-months-old.

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"After the Second World War my parents were 10-pound immigrants - that is all it cost them to come here. They arrived in Wellington, and moved to Rotorua when I started primary school," she told the Rotorua Daily Post.

"My sister has been telling me to get my citizenship for the last 30 years and to go back and visit Ireland. I thought I better do it finally, and we are off to Australia, Thailand, and Ireland soon."

During her working life, Bollen spent 28 years employed by the Rotorua Women's Club.

She has two grandchildren here.

"I am 'Granny' to all their friends too, and the neighbourhood children. They're the sparkle in my life," Bollen said.