OPINION: Nine years ago I had one of the proudest days of my life on a sunny day in Auckland.
On November 18, 2011, I huddled with a few hundred others into City Hall to be declared a New Zealand citizen.
I swore allegiance to the Queen (a bit awkward if you’re Irish) and received a certificate stating that I, Alan Granville, am now an officially adopted Kiwi.
I had come to this part of the world for just a year in 2004 and never expected to stay longer than those 12 months, but when one thing led to another, I fell head over heels to a country so far from my hometown was away from Dublin as you can possibly get.
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Receiving the little black book in the mail in the weeks that followed was a life event. It’s not every day that you get a second pass, which has become very desirable over the years.
Just last week New Zealand was declared the “most powerful” passport in the world (since then Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and South Korea have been at the top).
According to the Passport Index, NZ citizens have visa-free access or a visa when entering 134 countries.
Hrant Boghossian of the Passport Index told Stuff that there was a good reason why Aotearoa had become so popular: “New Zealand’s excellent handling of the Covid-19 crisis is reflected in the fact that its citizens are quickly accepted to move to other countries to travel.”
This follows evidence that the search for “how to move to New Zealand” has boosted Google Trends, largely as a result of the chaotic presidential campaign in America. Suddenly it seems like everyone here is considering moving.
In this Covid-hit world, there are advantages to having more than one passport.
“There are opportunities to travel, move, flee and even survive local economic, health or political crises,” said Boghossian. “Being a global citizen was a luxury that has now become a necessity.”
JOHN EGAN / Delivered
John Egan holds New Zealand, US, Canadian and Irish passports.
This feeling of being a global citizen drives John Egan and his husband Max. The duo who live in Auckland have collected an incredible eight passes between them. Both carry New Zealand and Canadian passports. John can count Ireland and the USA among his, Max also has Great Britain and Australia.
“I was born in the USA to a diaspora family in Ireland, but I left the USA after university to live in Canada. A few years ago there was a great opportunity here in Aotearoa, ”said Egan. “Both Canada and New Zealand are about advocating where I live and the values of society, but an equally important element is my experience as an LGBTQ + person. In my experience, things can get ugly surprisingly quickly for us. I think all queer people who can get a second pass should do so. “
The lecturer at Auckland University admits that there have been some issues with obtaining the passports.
“The Irish one was challenging because my parents’ wedding certificate was issued by the Church: Who knew Ireland only accepts civil marriage certificates? And every time I renew the US, I have to enclose a letter explaining why I have different passports. However, my renewals have never been delayed. “
Egan agrees with Boghossian’s opinion that having more than one pass is an advantage right now.
“In our Covid-19 world, I would not be able to travel home in an emergency without these passports. So right now they are vital. And … occasionally I have gone somewhere where only one of my passports allows entry without a visa. Or a reduced visa fee. I always check it out. “
But Egan is lucky, not everyone comes from countries that allow multiple nationalities.
Dr. Alan Tan is a dentist in Auckland. Tan was born in Malaysia and has lived in New Zealand since 1998. He came to college and immediately fell in love with the country.
“When I first moved to Dunedin, there were about 30 international students in my high school, and even as a minority I felt that people were trying to include you,” Tan said.
“I love the country, the fact that we are so close to nature and that it’s amazing to always be able to respond immediately. We also have everything we need available – we are spoiled for choice when it comes to food and technology. So there is really nothing that you cannot love. “
He desperately wants a New Zealand passport and would apply “immediately” but there is a problem as he would have to give up his Malaysian passport. That would create inheritance problems in his home and affect his ability to look after his aging parents.
“I believe that inheriting property in Malaysia requires prior approval from the state government, which can be difficult to obtain. My sister has given up her citizenship and therefore can no longer inherit real estate and certain investments. “
Tan’s parents are against him giving up his Malaysian passport. “Some of these can be traced back to the potential to lose the inheritance to the state, but also to the event that they are no longer able to take care of themselves. My father was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and it would be more difficult to work and live in Malaysia. “
“I don’t really identify with Malaysians and I feel like I’m more of a kiwi than anything – and it would be good if I had my passport reflected.”
In this travel world affected by Covid, there are advantages to having more than one passport.
Another person who feels Kiwi but officially isn’t is Phil Weiss. Born in Great Britain to a German father and an English mother, he holds both British and German passports. This is a rarity as Germany does not allow dual citizenship. There is, however, a loophole through which children of German citizens who were born abroad can retain the citizenship of their birth.
Despite staying in the US, Weiss has lived mainly in New Zealand for the past ten years and would like to cement his relationship with the country with citizenship. That would mean giving up his German passport, which in his opinion will be “tough”.
“I love my father, his legacy and his German family, and yes, I am also a passionate European. With Brexit, I’m clinging even more to German citizenship.
“But the passport I travel with the most is my UK passport because between my trips to the UK, the US and back to New Zealand, it’s the one that holds all of my residency visas. It’s a convenience, but also an avoidance of a shampoo point. My spoken German is not fluent and therefore it is useful to deal with immigration officials and bureaucracy in my mother tongue!
Weiss has just renewed his German passport, but admits that he will have to make a “tough decision” in the next five to ten years: “Become a Kiwi and give up being European or being European in New Zealand. “
A citizenship ceremony at Auckland City Hall. The search for “How to Move to New Zealand” propelled Google Trends up.
The American couple Todd and James * came to New Zealand in 2018, attracted by the slower pace of life, the “real” people and the “security, even on an island with a lot of volcanic activity”.
They both count down the days until they can apply for New Zealand citizenship, but differ in what to do with their US passports. Todd wants to give up his, James wants to keep his.
“I never really felt at home in the US,” said Todd. “Much of them grew up queer during the AIDS epidemic and felt like second class citizens with restricted rights in the country I was born in. The turning point for life outside the US came when Trump was elected.
“I would have no problem giving up my American citizenship because it has no value to me. Traveling with a New Zealand passport will fill me with immense pride. When I travel to the United States, I am personally ashamed. “
James said he would keep his because “it is my birthright, but I worked hard in the US from the age of 15 to deserve it”. He admits that filing taxes is still a “chore” in the US, but that “in case things ever get pear-shaped for me and my husband here in Aotearoa, we at least have the option of staying in to return to the US as a full citizen ”.
Of course, not even a person living in New Zealand is that interested in obtaining citizenship. Heather Maitland has lived here since the early 1980s. She was born and raised in Scotland but lived in the UK for some time before finally returning. She has been without a passport for many years after accidentally expiring her UK. In fact, she didn’t realize she wasn’t a permanent resident either, which she suspected until she recently applied for a job. The Wellingtonian must now apply for a UK passport before she can obtain permanent residence. She admits this is “crazy”.
“I’ve spent 90 to 95 percent of my life here. I mean, I was raised here. I worked here. “
Another couple, who preferred to remain anonymous, have been in the country from the UK for 45 and 18 years respectively, but have not been in the mood for citizenship until recently. They admit that Covid-19 caused them to deal with New Zealand citizenship.
A future kiwi says he can’t wait to get his hands on the little black book.
Nathan Serhan / Delivered
Nathan Serhan can’t wait to get his Kiwi passport.
Nathan Serhan, originally from Brazil, applied for citizenship just eight years after arriving in the country.
The travel agent who now lives in Auckland said he wanted to stay here because of the “better quality of life”.
“I came to study English for six months with no intention of staying. After those months I found a company willing to sponsor me and after renewing my work visa for three consecutive years, made a good circle of friends and started a new relationship, I thought it was time to apply for a residency visa.
“I decided to stay because I have better opportunities here to grow professionally. I had a great opportunity and I took it.”
He said his family back home is very proud as he is the first to live abroad and receive dual citizenship.
“It will be a great personal achievement. I will be proud to call myself a kiwi. “
* Names have been changed