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Chinese-born Barbara Song-Smart has just become a Kiwi, but she reckons her dumpling-making skills are still second to none.
The music teacher at Marlborough Boys' College was among 27 others who were made New Zealand citizens at a ceremony at the Marlborough District Council chambers on Friday.
Mrs Song, a classically trained pianist who has lived in New Zealand since 2002, moved to Blenheim in 2005 when she was offered a long-term relieving role at the college. She was later offered a full-time teaching position.
The ceremony was special, but becoming a New Zealander meant she had to give up her Chinese citizenship, she said.
She was philosophical about the decision.
"[Chinese citizenship] was not really hard to give up. You are who you are, no matter what passport you have."
"I've been posting photos of making homemade dumplings on Facebook and saying I'm becoming a Kiwi soon, but my dumpling-making skills will still be second-to-none," she laughed.
Her husband, James Smart, from Blenheim, had not been able to pick up the intricate art of dumpling-making, but enjoyed eating them, she said.
"He loves eating dumplings, but doesn't want to put the hard work into it."
She had not been back to China since she arrived in New Zealand as a 22-year-old international student and said it was unlikely she would go back because her husband did not like travelling.
"He is a Marlborough man through and through and has no plans to travel."
She arrived in New Zealand after completing a bachelor's degree in music education and piano performance in Guangzhou, in southern China, and most of her friends were looking for teaching jobs.
"I didn't want to start working, I thought I was too young and I was really passionate about piano performance."
She sent a video of a solo piano performance to Victoria University in Wellington and was accepted to do an honours degree and then trained as a music and language teacher.
She enjoyed living in Blenheim because of the vast number of musical opportunities
"I actually love Blenheim, the spirit of Blenheim – the Music Society, [Marlborough] Repertory, the Brass Band – it's a small town and a very vibrant place, musically. And I love the climate – it's a bit better than Wellington." Mrs Song's mother was granted New Zealand residency late last year and also lives in Blenheim.
The Marlborough Express
230911 News Photo – Derek Flynn / The Marlborough Express..New citizen ceremony at MDC
Blenheim..New Kiwi Barbara Song-Smart (centre) pictured with family friend Martyn Smith (left) and her husband James Smart (right).