Nō Niu Tīreni ahau – I am from New Zealand

24 09 2015

Over the last five years, when we’ve been asked where we’re from, our responses have varied.

Do they mean originally? Or do they want to know where we live now? It’s always hard when you’re at a show and the entertainer asks where people in the room are from. Sometimes I’ve even answered to both NZ and the UK (or England if they’re being specific). But I always felt like a bit of a fraudster if I said NZ.

When you live in a different country to the one you’re brought up in, you can often feel schizophrenic. Your heart can be torn. So I would quite often answer the “where are you from?” question with a slightly convoluted “originally the UK but we live in New Zealand.”

I didn’t quite feel “allowed” to say I’m from New Zealand.

Becoming citizens of a “second” country, your adopted home, is a significant shift. After all, you’re choosing citizenship this time. It’s not the one you happen to be born with.

But it finally gives me the right to call NZ home.

We’ve been asked why we got citizenship. And if I’m honest, it’s hard to articulate. It’s not like we have any desires to jump on a plane and go and live in Australia (which we can now do as bona fide kiwis). For me it felt like the natural next step. Our lives are here. It was more a case of why wouldn’t we?

So when someone now asks me where I come from, I feel I’m entitled to say “I’m from New Zealand.”

And when it comes to the Rugby World Cup, whether the team is dressed in white or black, I can justifiably cheer for them both.

Citizenship Ceremony at Te Papa Soundings Theatre Deputy Mayor Justin Lester

Citizenship Ceremony at Te Papa Soundings Theatre Deputy Mayor Justin Lester




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