Nearly six years ago, we were faced with a life-changing decision. Should we work out a way to stay in the UK, go home to South Africa or find a new country to call home.
We thought about Canada (too close to George Bush), Australia (LONG process), Hong Kong (couldn't speak any Mandarin at that stage) or New Zealand (looked quite nice in LOTR and on the interwebs). After a few weeks of umming and aahing we submitted our Expression Of Interest online and were accepted to apply as Skilled Migrants. Six months later we received our Permanent Residency Visas and moved across the world to Aotearoa. (Our back up plan was to have a great holiday and move back to SA.)
We have loved living here, the homesickness was bad and the transition was tricky but overall we found it easier than the move to the UK. New Zealand is very much our home now. I can't imagine leaving.
Five years and one month after arriving in New Zealand we went into Wellington to the Internal Affairs Dept and submitted our applications for Citizenship in person. After paying close to $1000 and going through the forms, we were told that we would hear in six to eight weeks whether we had been approved. After that it would be a wait until the ceremony.
The citizenship is only official after the ceremony. The ceremony came round three months after receiving our letters saying we had been accepted.
The ceremony was held in the council chambers in Upper Hutt. We received name tags in the mail and were told we could bring four guests (two each). It was a hard choice to make as we have so many wonderful friends here, so we chose a wonderful couple who have been friends from the minute we met them!
Our ceremony involved seven nationalities. Families, young couples, old couples and single people. It was a formal ceremony with the mayor in full mayoral dress with an honour guard of two soldiers from the local military base. There were speeches and lovely words from the mayor.
We were called up in groups to make our oath or affirmation to serve the Queen and NZ. After receiving our certificates we were given a fern plant in a kete bag to symbolise our new roots in NZ. Just before we sang the anthem we were given a little glass of sherry/juice to toast the Queen. I think that was Stud1s favourite part - "To the Queen!"
Once the ceremony was over we were given the opportunity to take photos with the mayor and then we were invited to have refreshments with all the new citizens.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and well worth the doubts and confusion I felt prior to the actual submission for citizenship.
The next step is to get our NZ passports and then we are able to travel to 175 countries visa free. We are hoping to celebrate our new passports by jumping the ditch for a weekend getaway to the Gold Coast.
And the best part?? Monkey was an angel and behaved beautifully! Although he is very concerned that we are now birds.