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Nelson's newest citizens welcomed at Civic House ceremony

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Nelson has a diverse bunch of new citizens following a ceremony which saw 31 people from around the world declare their allegiance to New Zealand.

Daria Fechney, originally from the Czech Republic, became a citizen after six-and-a-half years living in Nelson.

Nelson felt like the right choice for Daria and husband Simon, originally from New Zealand, to settle down.

Fechney said she was really happy to be given the opportunity to become a Kiwi citizen.

“I want to respect the culture and contribute anything my personality can bring”, Fechney said.

The Vij family, originally from the United States, were also granted their citizenship at the ceremony at Nelson Civic House on Wednesday after moving to New Zealand 10 years ago.

Wife and mother Maura Vij’s interest in New Zealand was first sparked while on a University exchange programme at the University of Otago.

The couple moved to Nelson so their three daughters could grow up around their grandparents who already lived in the city.

Maura, husband Virat and daughter Uma all gained citizenship alongside one another. Maura said this was lucky as they could maintain a dual American citizenship.

“The focus on multiculturalism, peace, safety, and environment” influenced Maura’s decision to live here, particularly with concerns of the United States pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.

The new citizens represent a range of nationalities from countries including Belgium, South Africa, the Philippines, Germany, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, and Taiwan.

Each candidate was presented with their citizenship certificate and a native plant, which they are encouraged to plant or gift to family or friends. The ceremony was concluded with a performance by Clifton Terrace School’s Kapa Haka group.

_By Sarah Jadallah for the Nelson Mail