Independence Day a highlight for Lydia

PATRIOTIC: Lydia Maireriki proudly holds the American flag in celebration of Independence Day today.
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Today Lydia Maireriki will be seeing stars and stripes as she celebrates American Independence Day with her husband and children.

Her thoughts will go back to Maryland, the state where she was born.

Seven years ago, Maireriki came to New Zealand to complete her masters in disaster risk management at Canterbury University. She fell in love and married Cook Islander Mahu Maireriki and moved to be with him in Ashburton.

Now a mother of three with baby number four due in October, the PhD student is looking forward to celebrating the day. It is a public holiday in her home country, commemorating adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the original colonies free from British rule.

She said many of the ways she had celebrated in America did not lend themselves to a winter climate.

Concerts, parades and fireworks were traditions honoured each year, alongside celebrations revolving around around outdoor gathering with friends and family, involving lots of food, picnics and barbecues.

‘‘Independence Day is a very patriotic day. Red, white and blue is everywhere, including the food we serve. Many homes proudly fly the stars and stripes, our flag,’’ she said.

‘‘When I came to New Zealand, one thing I noticed was how few homes fly a flag. Back in the States, flags are flown all year round, but especially on days associated with the military and Independence Day.

‘‘Our Independence Day parades are similar to a Christmas Parade here.’’

People dress in a variety of red white and blue clothing and accessories, especially anything with the flag on it, for the day.

Maryland is next to the state of Washington DC.

‘‘I grew up with lots of military bases around us and as such with current and exmilitary and lots of government servants living in the state, Independence Day was definitely celebrated.’’

As Independence Day was largely left to individuals and families to celebrate in New Zealand, Maireriki was looking forward to having fun and relaxing with her family.

She said she was grateful to have grown up in the Land of Liberty, where anyone could succeed in life.

‘‘I didn’t realise till I came to New Zealand just how much interest those outside of the US took in our politics,’’ she said.

While able to vote in the forthcoming elections, Maireriki won’t be.

‘‘It is difficult to vote when you are abroad.’’

 Independence Day is an opportunity for Lydia Maireriki and her children (from left) Vera, 2, David, 5, and Evlynn, 4, to dress in American colours. Photo Supplied.