The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Interim changes to citizenship ceremonies

20 March 2020

The Department of Internal Affairs is advising councils to suspend all future citizenship ceremonies until further notice.
Jeff Montgomery, General Manager Services and Access, says this is an unfortunate but necessary precaution against COVID-19.

“Our priority it to ensure the health and wellbeing of the public. With over 6,500 people due to become citizens in the coming months and attending public ceremonies, there’s little opportunity for people to keep at safe distances from each other.

“Citizenship ceremonies are managed by local councils and we have been in touch with them this week. Most have already cancelled upcoming ceremonies.

“We realise that the ceremony is a highlight for many new Kiwis, but we want to play our part in keeping people safe.”

A handful of councils are going ahead with ceremonies that are already planned. The Department advises people who aren’t sure if their ceremony will proceed to contact their local council.

Those already approved for citizenship will be sent their citizenship certificates. Further information is available at

Adults and groups of adults who would like to apply for citizenship can now do it online:


Media Desk
Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs
Mobile: +64 27 535 8639 email:

Background information for media

Ordinarily, the final step to becoming a citizen involves attending a ceremony and taking the oath of citizenship publicly. The Minister of Internal Affairs Hon Tracey Martin, acting on advice from the Department, decided on 16 March 2020 to temporarily waive the requirement for citizens to take this step, where it is in the public interest that ceremonies not go ahead.

The Secretary of Internal Affairs, Paul James, has subsequently determined that no further ceremonies will be scheduled until further notice. The Department is liaising with affected councils and individuals.

While the suspension means new citizens aren’t taking an oath publicly, they sign a statutory declaration as part of the application process that they understand the responsibilities and obligations of citizenship.