Friday was a special day for 37 new citizens of New Zealand when the Central Otago District Council held its first formal citizenship ceremony in more than a year.

Covid-19 restrictions had meant some new citizens had received their citizenship certificates through the mail but they were also invited to attend the event.

The new citizens were officially called in to the room at the Alexandra Community Hall with a karanga by iwi representatives, then Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan read their stories of how they came to New Zealand. They then took the the oath or pledge of allegiance, or received their certificates if they had previously been mailed.

Many of the stories drew laughter, particularly that of US-born Elizabeth Conway, who was studying music and thinking of studying abroad when someone suggested New Zealand.

‘‘I thought to myself, ‘Yes! I’ll go and study in the tropics!’,’’ she wrote.

‘‘Hot all year round, sandy white beaches with exotic fish to snorkle with.’’

Dunedin was not quite the tropical paradise she had expected but she fell in love with the country and one of its men, married, had two children and set up a recording and music› teaching studio.

In 2016, after a two-year stay in Canada, the family moved to Alexandra where Mrs Conway again set up a music studio where she teaches music to all ages.

A choir of her young pupils, including her children, Jackson and Maia, sang the national anthem after the ceremony, and children of two other recipients were also in the choir.