The lengths — or distance — people go for love.
Friday’s citizenship ceremony in Alexandra was ‘‘our own little Love Actually’’, Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan said, as attendees sharing stories of starting a world trip where New Zealand ended up being the first, last and only destination, of calling Aotearoa home for decades before finally making it official, and crossing the globe for love.
Twenty-two new New Zealanders celebrated in typical Kiwi fashion with ‘‘southern sushi’’, pikelets and gumboots.
Wearing his best red bands, Maniototo dairy farmer Imran, of Pakistan, was made a New Zealand citizen alongside wife Zehra Nasser and New Zealandborn son Musa Ismail, 7.
Youngest son Essa Ismail, 6, is already a citizen, as he was born after his parents gained permanent residency.
Imran’s parents originally had wanted him to become a doctor but there were limited options for him to study at home.
He moved to China to study for two years, which ‘‘did not work out’’, so he moved to New Zealand to be closer to his brother.
While in Christchurch, he was introduced to farming, fell in love with it, working in different roles, and is now contract milking near Patearoa.
In 2013, he met Zehra and she moved to New Zealand.
Originally not an animal person, Zehra quickly fell in love with farm life.
They said they were proud to call New Zealand home.
‘‘I feel very proud because New Zealand has given me so much. I don’t know if in any other country I would have achieved what I’ve achieved here,’’ Imran said.
He was giving back to his new home as a volunteer with Welcoming Communities, helping people who moved from other countries to Central Otago.