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A pear tree has been planted in Allenby Park to honour the many immigrants who now call Wanaka home.

The low-key welcoming ceremony was created because of Covid-19 restrictions on full official citizenship events.

Invited community leaders did the digging. They also planted a kauri tree in Queenstown Gardens.

Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult said 82 new Wanaka and Queenstown citizens were honoured by the tree planting.

Formal citizenship ceremonies were among his favourite jobs and it was unfortunate they could not go ahead, he said.

The council planted trees to honour its commitment to the new Welcoming Communities programme Waharoa ki nga Hapori.

Welcoming Communities is a government-funded initiative to make places more welcoming for everyone.

“New Zealanders have a reputation for being friendly, hospitable, and inclusive. The Welcoming Communities programme is about rolling out a welcome mat for all of our newcomers, recent migrants, former refugees, and international students.

“We are formally acknowledging QLDCs commitment to the Welcoming Communities standards, and are seeking better social outcomes, stronger economic growth, and an environment where everyone is able to participate in the economic, civic, cultural and social life of the community,” he said.

The 82 new citizens will receive a Trees That Count gift card so they too can plant trees in the district’s Welcome Forests.

Welcoming Communities’ newly appointed co-ordinator Silvia Dancose said having community leaders and elected members at the two events reflected how engaged and committed everyone was to making the district a more welcoming and inclusive community.

One of her tasks was to develop a welcome plan.

“Our newest Kiwis come from all corners of the world, bringing with them a passion for Queenstown Lakes and all our place has to offer,” she said.

The Welcoming Communities programme has four stages of accreditation.

Queenstown Lakes is at stage one.