E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou, kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the warmest of greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Hon Amy Adams, Minister of Internal Affairs—tēnā koe; Your Worship Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington—tēnā koe.
It is a great pleasure for Janine and me to welcome you all to Government House in Wellington for this special citizenship ceremony.
Today is Waitangi Day, the anniversary of the day on which the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed 172 years ago.
As Waitangi Day is our national day, I could think of no better way of celebrating our national identity than by hosting a citizenship ceremony and welcoming new New Zealanders into the New Zealand family. I want to thank Mayor Wade-Brown, who regularly holds citizenship ceremonies at the Wellington Town Hall, for agreeing to help with the ceremony by administering the oaths and affirmations of allegiance.
At the outset I want to congratulate all those becoming citizens today. I am pleased you have completed the journey towards making New Zealand your home.
New Zealand is a young nation by international standards. Likewise, New Zealand citizenship is a relatively new concept, having only been in existence from 1 January 1949.
Sixty-three years ago, most New Zealanders identified themselves as British. Today New Zealanders are a distinct group, with our own markers—proud traditions, and cultures and shared values—which are reflected and bound in the notion of our citizenship.
When you become New Zealand citizens by choice, you formally pledge allegiance to our country. New Zealand does not require immigrants to adopt a particular culture, or restrict themselves to our official languages, or to give up the citizenship of other countries.
In becoming New Zealand citizens, you willingly take on the responsibility to uphold the law of the land, and respect the rights of other New Zealanders. Other responsibilities include voting, serving on juries and participating in your communities.
We have always been a diverse country, with people from many different ethnic and national origins. In recent years, however, that diversity has increased significantly.
Citizenship ceremonies like this one give us an insight into the New Zealand of the future. Today we have 24 people, from 19 countries, becoming New Zealand citizens. These include countries as far afield as Somalia, South Africa, the United States, Iran, Britain, Ireland, Gambia, the Netherlands, India, China, Mexico and Bulgaria—as well as our Asia-Pacific neighbours—the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Japan, Thailand, Samoa and Australia.
Obtaining New Zealand citizenship is the final step in the journey to making New Zealand your homeland. While you have gained additional rights and responsibilities, the real value of citizenship is what it means to you personally.
Your New Zealand citizenship is a unique bond that links you with you with other New Zealanders and links us all as one nation.
You will be more aware of the importance of New Zealand citizenship than many of those born here. In deciding to apply for citizenship, you had to weigh many factors. Some of you will have to give up the citizenship of the country of your birth in order to take up New Zealand citizenship. That cannot be an easy decision to make and affirms your commitment to this country. New Zealand is no longer just your home, it is now your country. As a citizen you can call New Zealand home and return here whenever you choose.
Your commitment to this country does not, of course, diminish the importance of your homeland, your heritage, your culture and your traditions. Your background will play a strong part in New Zealand’s future and I encourage you to take an active part in the community as it will be enriched by your background.
You are joining the New Zealand family now. While the country always welcomes people to live in New Zealand as temporary workers, students and residents, I commend you on your decision to become a citizen. In doing so, you have made a formal commitment to New Zealand and I hope other migrants follow your example.
In conclusion, New Zealand’s future and your future are now woven together. I wish you all the best in your life as New Zealand citizens. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.