Becoming New Zealanders and, more importantly, tangata whenua, tangata tiriti and bona fide members of the Whangarei community at last week’s Citizenship Ceremony were 64 people from countries as diverse as Fiji, Israel, England, Poland, Malta, Thailand, Spain, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, France, Germany, China, Czechoslovakia, Cambodia, Philippines and South Africa.
26/05/2014 3:30 p.m.
Tangata Whenua and Te Tririti o Waitangi will be acknowledged formally from now on at Whangarei’s Citizen Ceremonies.
Up to 70 people swear allegiance to the Queen and become New Zealanders at citizenship Ceremonies several times a year in Whangarei.
The ceremonies are organised by Whangarei District Council’s Mayoral Office, usually with the Mayor playing a lead role along with Councillors on the day.
“When people become citizens of this land they also become tangata tiriti, or people of this land by right of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s guiding document,” said Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai.
“We have made a few changes to our citizenship ceremony to ensure this is fully acknowledged from now on. It’s subtle, but it’s also profound.
“After people make their oaths or affirmations, they will receive their Citizenship Certificate. At that point they may choose to make a short address, and then we will present them with a native kowhai tree to plant in their new home, and them to share, if they wish, in our customary Maori greeting – a hongi.
“We will explain at the beginning that a hongi is used at traditional Maori meetings and serves a similar purpose to a handshake in western culture, and is often used in conjunction with one.
“In the hongi, the ha (or breath of life), is exchanged. The breath of life can also be interpreted as the sharing of both party's souls.
“Through the exchange of this greeting, the new citizens will no longer be considered manuhiri (visitors) but rather tangata tiriti, one of the people of the treaty,” Mayor Mai said.