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Deaf Somali man uses sign language to becme a NZ Citizen

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NZ New citizen: Deaf Somali refugee Mohamud Omar completes his citizenship ceremony in Palmerston North. Photo: DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX

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The smile said it all for Mohamud Omar as he became Palmerston North’s newest citizen.

The Somali refugee is deaf and made his citizenship oath yesterday using sign language at the city's Internal Affairs Department office.

Mr Omar had been practising his oath by watching a video of Deaf Aotearoa Service Co-ordinator Annette Scott signing the words.

He was helped yesterday by the services of interpreter Kerry Locker-Lampson.

Speaking through her, Mr Omar told the Manawatu Standard it felt ‘‘wonderful’’ to become a citizen of New Zealand.

‘‘I wanted to feel more connected to Palmerston North.’’

Mr Omar said life in Somalia was not great but he had liked living in Palmerston North and before that in Hamilton.

After reading the oath, he was read a letter from Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain and joined in the singing of the national anthem by signing the lyrics.

Mr Omar has lived in New Zealand since 2007 and is hoping to find seasonal work in the central region, because  he likes the area and has become part of the local deaf community.

He has been a regular visitor at the Manawatu Deaf Society clubrooms, getting to know the deaf community and communicating with them to strengthen his knowledge of sign language and New Zealand’s deaf culture.

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