NZ citizenship for Catlins principal


Perhaps unnoticed by the majority, another casualty of the Covid-19 lockdown was the Clutha District Council’s citizenship ceremony.

The Catlins Area School principal Kate Staniford was one of the newly minted New Zealand citizens who was looking forward to a celebration, only to have it struck down by gathering restrictions.

“It’s a weird thing, really,” Mrs Staniford said.

She had put off going for her citizenship over the 15 years in New Zealand, in hope of avoiding the fanfare of a ceremony.

“I’ve never liked all that sort of drama, so that’s why I was always nervous about doing it.”

That was before the former British educator moved from the North Island to the Catlins, a community she has come to love.

Since she had got to know the community, and Clutha mayor Bryan Cadogan, now was the time to make it official, she said.

“Because I know Bryan so well, I wasn’t anxious about that scenario at all.”

But that chance was scuppered, and Mrs Staniford had to settle for a certificate delivered unceremoniously in the mail.

“Everyone loves morning tea with Bryan [Cadogan].

‘‘Perhaps he’d like to bring me one at school.”

Following teaching work in England, the experienced teacher worked at five different schools across New Zealand before coming to the Catlins in 2017.

She said moving to New Zealand was one of the “best things that ever happened to me”.

The school system was different in New Zealand, and offered more freedom, she said.

“It’s more hands-on, and each teacher and each school can frame the way that they’re going to teach things.

“You’ve got this overarching curriculum, and it’s ground-breaking where New Zealand have organised their curriculum so you have the freedom to be creative.”

She said the system in England was “very prescriptive” and did not allow for the differing learning styles of pupils.

Mrs Staniford said her move to New Zealand had been sudden, but now it felt like home.

“I love it. My mum lives here now too. And my sister is an Australian citizen nearby.

“After so many years, I feel like I’m really here.”