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Friday, March 25, 2011

Momentous Day - New Zealand Citizens at last

Momentous Milestone achieved after 5 years, 5 months and 20 days (or 1997 days).....

we officially became New Zealand Citizens on 24 March 2011

From the day we first set foot in Auckland we had some rather ambitious goals in mind
  1. find a job
  2. get a work permit
  3. get Permanent Residency
  4. and the ultimate.... Citizenship !!!
Rather a tall order considering we arrived on 4 October 2005 not knowing anyone, having never been in New Zealand before, no job lined up and therefore no work permit - just our large suitcases and a 3 month visitor's permit each.

The road to Citizenship
I was fortunate to secure a wonderful job within 3 weeks of arriving in New Zealand, obtained a work permit and started working on 12 December 2005.  As I was employed in an occupation on the skills shortage list I submitted my application for Permanent Residency by the end of December 2005.  Permanent Residency was quickly processed, approved and the Returning Resident's visas was proudly visible in our passports from May 2006.  The eligibility rules for applying for Citizenship by Grant had just been amended from 3 years to 5 years (for more information on the latest requirements visit http://ow.ly/4lVJq or http://www.dia.govt.nz/ ) - so we knew we had a long wait ahead of us.  However, unbeknown to us, the 5 years are not counted as elapsed time but is based on being in New Zealand a minimum of 240 days per year since obtaining Permanent Residency - this meant we could possibly have applied for Citizenship several months before we actually did !!  Needless to say, on 6 January 2011, I met with a case officer from the Department of Internal Affairs to review our citizenship applications and was overjoyed to discover that we met all the requirements and could apply immediately - which I did.  On 15 February 2011 I provided the last piece of documentation still outstanding to support the applications to my case officer at which point he sent the application to Wellington for review and consideration.  On Saturday 12 March 2011 our congratulatory letters arrived - we had been approved for New Zealand Citizenship !!  Along with this also came our invitation to the official Citizenship Ceremony scheduled for 24 March 2011.  We our now very proud recipients of an official Certificate of Citizenship.  On Monday28 March I will submit our applications for New Zealand passports.

On reflection, the 1997 days since arriving has flown by.  Having achieved our ultimate milestone on our journey, we will take some time out to celebrate its achievement and in due course, sit and set ourselves new goals and objectives - not as just visitors but as CITIZENS!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Help for new comers to New Zealand at last !!!

In the beginning.... shortly after arriving in Auckland, New Zealand and going through the turmoil of finding our feet in a totally new country, a thought occurred to me that "surely most new immigrants to New Zealand must experience similar difficulties as to what we are and have as many unanswered questions as we do":
  • which city and suburb to settle in,
  • do I buy a house or rent one,
  • what schools do I send my kids to,
  • how does the health system work and where do I find a good family doctor,
  • how do I go about finding a job,
  • let alone getting all the necessary work permits and/or student permits,
  • and many many more such questions.
All tough questions to answer when you arrive out of the blue, having never been to New Zealand before and with no one to hold your hand or offer advice.

The thought that occurred to me was "Why not create a mechanism for sharing our experiences with other new immigrants as well as those who were considering moving to New Zealand?".  A thought that crossed my mind many more times over the years since that first day, a thought which has now become more than just a thought - it has now become a reality with the creation of this blog.

My intention is to share our personal experiences and thoughts through this blog.  Initially my primary focus will be on the area we have been living and working in for the past 5 years, the northern suburbs of Auckland's North Shore.  Its not my intention to offer advice on topics such as immigration, employment, education, health etc but rather to post our story as it evolved and continues to evolve.  Where relevant I will include links to sites that could provide additional information, facts or advice.  To supplement our story and our journey I will also post photos and videos so you, the reader, can get a visual appreciation of what we have experienced - although photos and videos can never replace the magnificent feeling of experiencing what I believe is truly "a little piece of heaven on earth  - New Zealand".

I look forward to diligently sharing our wonderful experiences and stories with you and I hope you not only enjoy them but also find value in what we have to offer in these posts.