Twenty-nine new citizens from eight different countries read their oaths at the Rotorua Lakes Council chambers yesterday afternoon..

Instead of a school kapa haka performance, the ceremony attendees were given a personal welcome from councillors and staff who performed a waiata led by Trevor Maxwell.

Mayor Steve Chadwick told the group the council was now doing monthly ceremonies for new Kiwis.

"It used to be six-weekly but we are now putting on more, because so many people want to live in Rotorua."

Savita Birdi with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo / Stephen Parker
Savita Birdi with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick. Photo / Stephen Parker

Some new citizens, such as South African Daniel Coetzee Geyer, had been in New Zealand long enough to lose their accents, while others wore shy smiles as they introduced themselves in English.

Geyer was born in Cape Town and moved to New Zealand 13 years ago.

"I am a dairy farmer. It's been a bit of a battle. I'm farming in Reporoa," he told the group.

Genevie Canag Cabiton, from the Philippines, arrived in New Zealand seven years ago to study nursing.

"I was nervous, anxious and probably a bit naive but now I work at Rotorua Hospital and today I am proud to be in New Zealand. A country that believes in democracy," she said.

Havea Hikule'o Makasini Helu moved here from Tonga in 2005 to work.

He was granted residency in 2007 and brought his family over.

"I thank God for this moment ... In 2012 my family were awarded citizenship but I was out of the country in Tonga, so I couldn't."


Savita Birdi, from India, did not know anyone when she first arrived in New Zealand.

"But here I am with my beautiful family ... It is overwhelming for me," she said.