Former New Zealand envoy among 20 new Samoan citizens

Taking their Oaths as Samoan citizens, former New Zealand High Commissioner David Nicholson is on the far left

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 18 OCTOBER 2018: Former New Zealand High Commissioner, David Nicholson was among 20 people who received Samoan citizenship in a special ceremony in Cabinet Room yesterday.

Out of the 20 who satisfied the requirements of the Samoan Citizenship Act, 13 were eligible by virtue of their marriage to their Samoan spouses and 7 by virtue of permanent residency status.

Speaking to Talamua after the ceremony, Nicholson said he was very proud to be accorded the honour to be a Samoan citizen with his wife.

“It gives me the opportunity to move freely in the country and contribute to Samoa’s development,” said Nicholson.

David Nicholson with wife Dr. Debby Ryan Nicholson after the ceremony

The other new citizens had resided and worked  in Samoa for 20 years such as Professor Mohammed Umar and popular Marketing personality Mike Mahikmar.

Umar is Head of the School of Agriculture of the University of the South Pacific at Alafua, and spoke on behalf of the new citizens.

“We appreciate this honour given to us today, which we will treasure forever, and thank you very much,” said Professor Umar.

“The hallmark of Samoa is based on love, peace, stability, and very few countries in the world can be proud like Samoa, because of the way we are and the way we live.”

Being in Samoa all these years, Umar never felt that he was not a citizen of Samoa, and that was why it took him so long to apply for citizenship.

“Every aspect of my life here I enjoyed as if I was a Samoan,” said Umar.

More popularly known as ‘Mike’, Mahendra Kamalakant Mahik has lived in Samoa for 20 years, and worked with Ah Liki Wholesales, Digicel, Bluesky and the Samoa Beverages Company.

“It is one of those things, you are so busy doing work year after year, and you just lose track of time. I think this time around I have a little bit of spare time so I decided to do it,” said Mahikmar.

Professor Umar, Moneka Knight Tupua and daughter, Soraya Jon May, Karleen Mary Rasmussen, Mike Mahimkar and son Dwayne.

Hotelier Soraya Jon May has lived in Samoa since 2006 and owns the Le Vasa Resort at Manono –Uta.

Originally from America, she moved here with her parents 12 years ago. She now continues to operate her family business with her Samoan husband.

“Getting a citizenship is like a marriage, sealing the deal as a final step forward to a feeling that you belong somewhere,” said May.

Hotelier Soraya Jon May and husband

Also receiving her citizenship was Australian Moneka Knight Tupua who came to Samoa as a young journalist in 2000 to establish the Media and Journalism Programme at the National University of Samoa. Married to former journalist and lawyer Tosi Tupua, she was accompanied by her daughter to receive her citizenship certificate.

The ceremony was conducted by the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi presented the citizenship certificates.

“Today marks the beginning of a new path and direction for you all, our newly sworn citizens. It is the affirmation of your allegiance and commitment to serve Samoa and its people to the best of your abilities,” said Tuilaepa.

“On behalf of the Cabinet and people of Samoa, I congratulate you all.”

The new Samoan citizens are from Australia, China, Fiji, India, New Zealand and the United States.

Businessman Weijie Weng of Coin Save with members of his family after the ceremony

The new citizens are:
David Nicholson, New Zealand
Adrian Russell McCONELL, New Zealand
Brent William ROSS, Australian
Charlie Have LITI, Tongan
David Campbell, New Zealand
Gregorio Guillermo RECALDE, New Zealand
Karleen Mary RASMUSSEN, New Zealand
Mahendra Kamalakant MAHIK, India
Mohammed UMAR, Fijian
Moneka Knight TUPUA, Australia
Selina LEFAO, USA
Soraya Jon MAY, USA
Timothy WALKDEN-BROWN, Canada
Shuangxiu ZEND, China
Jie XUE, China
Weijie WENG, China
Dehui LIN, China