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A Welcoming Place For All

This week, Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) signed a Statement of Commitment, officially recognising the district as part of the Welcoming Communities programme - Waharoa ki nga Hapori.

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

Two small ceremonies were held outdoors in Queenstown and in Wānaka yesterday, Tuesday 2 November, to formally sign the statement, and to acknowledge 82 local residents recently becoming New Zealand citizens.

Mayor Jim Boult said citizenship ceremonies are what he loves most about his job as Mayor, but unfortunately it was not possible to host a full citizenship ceremony, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Instead, a small group of community leaders were invited, and in Queenstown local waiata group Ngā Manu Hou (which means ‘the new birds’) sang.

“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,” Mayor Boult said.

“We are formally acknowledging QLDC’s 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.”

To mark the ceremony, a kauri tree was planted in Queenstown Gardens, and a pear tree was planted in Allenby Park in Wānaka. A Trees That Count gift card will also be sent to the 82 new citizens, and these trees will be planted in Queenstown Lakes District Welcome Forests.

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Silvia Dancose, the new Welcoming Communities Coordinator for the district, said the presence of community leaders and elected members at the two events was a reflection of how engaged and committed everyone is to making Queenstown Lakes a more welcoming and inclusive community.

“The signing of the Statement of Commitment represents the initial phase of the Welcoming Communities programme. Over the coming months I will be connecting with our communities to understand and acknowledge what we already do well to welcome newcomers, and to develop a Welcome Plan to further enhance these initiatives,” said Ms Dancose.

“For now, though, we are excited to welcome 82 new citizens. 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.

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