Jan and Korien Marais, along with sons Andre, 15 and Jacques, 13 took the citizenship oath alongside 48 others at a citizenship ceremony at Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre last Friday.
Jan and Korien Marais, along with sons Andre, 15 and Jacques, 13 took the citizenship oath alongside 48 others at a citizenship ceremony at Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre last Friday. Matt Taylor GLA190719CITI

The journey that feels like 'running a marathon'

A SOUTH African family who've lived in Gladstone for six years compared the feeling of gaining citizenship to "how you'd feel after running a marathon”.

Jan and Korien Marais, along with sons Andre, 15 and Jacques, 13, took the oath alongside 48 others at a ceremony at Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre last Friday.

Jan said the most important part of becoming citizens was ensuring they raised Australian children and not expatriates.

"It was a decision we made for our children's sake especially, we saw a better future here for them,” he said.

"We like the fact Australia shares the values we grew up with and so for us it was a natural fit.

Onofre Estoya, with Mayor Matt Burnett, took the citizenship pledge last Friday.
Onofre Estoya, with Mayor Matt Burnett, was one of 52 who took the citizenship pledge last Friday. Matt Taylor GLA190719CITI

"A lot of the things Australia does reflects the values we believe in about fairness and the Government looking after its people.”

The citizenship ceremony saw people from a range of cultures and backgrounds take the pledge and receive their citizenship certificate.

It was run by Gladstone Regional Council, with local talent Annamonet Massey singing the national anthem.

Korien said it had been the family's goal to seek citizenship, but there was some sadness.

Annamonet Massey sang the Australian National Anthem at a citizenship ceremony at Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre last Friday.
Annamonet Massey sang the Australian National Anthem and I Am Australian. Matt Taylor GLA190719CITI

"It will always be sad, it's the country you were born into, you grew up in,” she said.

"We still have family there, but the country is changing and is changing in a way that might not have given our kids the opportunity to have jobs when they grow up.

"You don't leave a country to go live somewhere else and raise your kids if you're not willing to become a part of that society and part of that country.”