Wednesday, December 21, 2016
About a month ago now the Brunt family officially became citizens of New Zealand.
This was a very big deal for me and I just felt that I should make a record of it on here. We have always intended on staying in New Zealand permanently (a decision made about a month after we first arrived sitting on a bench in Butterfly Creek in Eastbourne looking over Wellington harbour) and eventually becoming citizens.
We were prompted into it by the Brexit vote in the UK earlier this year. As a family we had lived in Brussels for just under two years and we had always felt like Europeans, embracing the many benefits that being part of Europe brought with it. However after the shock result and all the vitriol and lies that the Government and a large percentage of the British press seemed to be spreading we began to feel more and more remote from our British heritage. I was ashamed to be British!
So the day after the Brexit vote we filled in all the papers, paid the fees and put in our application to become proper Kiwis. As we already had permanent residency this was not really a difficult task and the Department of Internal Affairs are very helpful. You can make an appointment to go there for an interview and they process and check all the paperwork in front of you.
About 6 months later we were invited to attend the citizenship ceremony. You have to declare your loyalty to the Queen and receive your certificates from the Mayor before you are officially declared citizens.
The ceremony itself was lovely and a very uplifting and positive experience. The city we live in is very multicultural and there were people from all around the world getting their citizenship at the same time as us. Some of the accents we spotted whilst they read the oath were American, Spanish, Malaysian, British, Samoan and Scandinavian. The section that almost moved me to tears (I am a bit of a soppy old thing at times) was when the Mayor declared that his city was proud of its multicultural heritage and that we should not forget our original culture or traditions but they should be blended and shared with the rest of the population. If only every country was as accepting as this.
I really wanted to know what everyones story was and how and why the ended up moving to New Zealand and settling in our little city. I was particularly interested to find out why the chap who appeared to be a Tibetan Monk has decided to move to New Zealand but his grasp of English was faltering so I was not brave enough to approach him.
The ceremony ends with everyone singing the national anthem and you are presented with a native tree to plant. Since we live in the middle of a native forest we were obviously grateful, but did wonder where we would find the space to plant it. In the end we invited some friends round for a celebration of our citizenship and a ceremonial planting in the back garden.
I did ask the kids to do a haka as we planted it, however they ended up doing the macarana instead!