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Godzone for billionaires

Written By: - Date published: 8:59 am, January 26th, 2017 - 93 comments
Categories: john key, labour, national, us politics - Tags: , ,

The Government is floundering to explain how an American Billionaire has received New Zealand citizenship, despite not meeting normal criteria.

Peter Thiel is an unusual person, very rich, very right wing, and he has some unusual beliefs and characteristics. The New York Times explains some of his background:

Mr. Thiel, worth a reported $2.7 billion, was a founder of the online payments site PayPal and the data company Palantir. He secretly funded the lawsuit that killed off Gawker, the network of gossip sites that outed him, accurately, as gay.

When Mr. Trump won, Mr. Thiel emerged as a key adviser. He has spent much of the time since the election in New York, advising the transition team. His recommendations are under consideration for significant jobs.

As a byproduct, he has become famous, a fate many of his peers in Silicon Valley would go out of their way to avoid. Mr. Thiel has been reported as a possible Supreme Court justice, as a potential candidate for governor of California, and, most recently, as President Trump’s potential ambassador to Germany.

Mr. Thiel’s admiration for New Zealand is longstanding. “Utopia,” he once called it. He has an investment firm in the country that has put millions into local start-ups. He also owns lavish properties there, which his Silicon Valley friends hope to fly to in the event of a worldwide pandemic.

He has in the past shown empathy for his fellow humans.  As long as they are rich or famous.  He helped fund a lawsuit by wrestler Hulk Hogan against Gawker which effectively was a successful attempt to drain Hawker of funds by forcing it to fight a long drawn out case.  In his own words this is his justification for his actions:

“I can defend myself. Most of the people they attack are not people in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves.” He said that “even someone like Terry Bollea who is a millionaire and famous and a successful person didn’t quite have the resources to do this alone.”

He also described incidences of date rape as belated regret.  I can see why he gets on so well with Donald Trump.

Clearly though he is worried about what is happening in America and has been setting up a bolthole in New Zealand, presumably just in case Trump does not deliver nirvana.

If you want further detail Karol wrote this fascinating backgrounder on Thiel in 2014.

It appears Thiel gained access to New Zealand via a high net worth investor application.  In 2012 John Key spoke with approval about the decision.  From Scoop:

The tiny number of super-rich investors who come to New Zealand generally add value to the country far beyond whatever initial investment is required of them to gain residency, Prime Minister John Key said today.

He cited New York billionaire Julian Robertson, who has developed tourist resorts in New Zealand and made the largest single art collection donation in Australasia, film-maker James Cameron and Paypal founder Peter Thiel, an investor in kiwi accounting software company Xero, as examples.

“Having high net worth individuals come here is a positive, in my view,” he said at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference. “There will never be massive numbers. There aren’t that many of them.

“The vast bulk of people don’t come in the super-rich category, if you’re talking about how people get citizenship,” Key said.

Wealthy migrants needed to show they would bring benefits to New Zealand and were committed to the country.

Somehow Thiel managed to gain New Zealand citizenship even though he did not meet the normal criteria with his application being granted on June 30, 2011.  From Radio New Zealand:

Mr Guy, who was the internal affairs minister at the time, said Mr Thiel was granted citizenship under a provision of the Citizenship Act that stated it would be “in the public interest due to exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature”.

However, he said he did not recall dealing with Mr Thiel’s application.

“As minister I tended to follow the advice of DIA officials on these issues; I’m advised officials recommended granting citizenship in this particular case.”

A consequence is that thanks to this decision Mr Thiel did not have to apply for Overseas Investment Office consent when he bought a 197 hectare property in Wanaka in 2015.  But letting someone avoid the provisions of the OIO is not something that I would normally think is in the public interest.

OIA applications have been lodged.  It appears that the Government will try and delay for the 20 working day period despite an obligation to release the information as soon as it is practicable.

Iain Lees Galloway has lodged questions via the Parliamentary system and should receive the information first.  And he neatly sums up why this issue is important:

Questions have rightly been asked about how Mr Thiel has acquired New Zealand citizenship given that he does not appear to meet the criteria usually expected of applicants.

“People wishing to become citizens of New Zealand normally have to spend over 70 per cent of their time in New Zealand over a 5-year period before they can even apply.

“It seems incredibly unlikely that a person of Mr Thiel’s wealth and prominence would be able to reside unnoticed in New Zealand for that period of time.

“Has the Government chosen to allow Mr Thiel to jump the queue for citizenship? If so, an urgent explanation is required.

“Mr Thiel is a wealthy man who has chosen to invest in two New Zealand tech ventures. That is to be welcomed and applauded, but it is not enough reason to give him preferential treatment.

“There is no evidence of impropriety in this case, but New Zealanders pride ourselves on being an egalitarian nation where citizenship is not for sale, and that ideal must be upheld.

“There may well be an innocent explanation but the longer the Government stays silent the more it appears they have something to hide,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

This obsequious pandering to overseas wealthy has been going on for a while and is part of the Government’s economic strategy.  From an article last year by Fran O’Sullivan:

John Key is positioning New Zealand as an Asia-Pacific “Switzerland” – a beautiful and wealthy bolthole for high net-worthers seeking to escape from an unstable world.

Key believes that free-flowing terrorism is here to stay. To the Prime Minister, this simply makes New Zealand more attractive and will result in more high net-worth consumers wanting to come here – a theme he is developing in business briefings.

As I said last year Key wanted and National wants to attract more wealthy people to New Zealand as the rest of the world implodes.  This explains his utter indifference to climate change and why he wants everyone to get some guts and make the Middle East even more unstable.  They present business opportunities, not threats.  As the centre of the world cooks and the north implodes from the pressure of millions seeking a new home, rich people flooding south to New Zealand’s green and pleasant land will make us richer, or at least those of us who already own land.  As for the rest clearly they are poor and undeserving.  Tough luck if you are young or working class or both.

New Zealand is clearly becoming godzone for some.  Mainly billionaires.

93 comments on “Godzone for billionaires ”

  1. Keith 1

    I’ve said to before of John Key but why did a man who become obscenely financially wealthy by his late 30’s doing the bidding for some of the most unethical immoral financial organisations in the world ever want to lead what was an essentially honest non corrupt country like New Zealand? A man who is utterly motivated by personal gain.

    Key in theory left that banking world well before its handy work imploded the worlds economy and therefore illogically left when there was still plenty to be made.

    Nothing I saw of his years as PM, publicly and stated that is, ever suggested to me that he had anything useful he wanted to achieve. It was like he just wanted a turn at driving the bus because he could but whilst doing so lost all that potential earning he could have raked in. Made little sense and the search for Keys legacy has failed to turn up anything positive. And to add to this his equally quick abandonment of the job has never been answered or asked by our so call media. His reasons like everything else the man uttered should be taken with a grain of salt!

    But the Panama Papers uncovered just a touch of what Key was about, setting up this country for the extreme wealthy well behind the scenes. Is it too conspiratorial to ask, was Key dispatched here by the very billionaires he rubbed shoulders with on a daily basis and so desperately coveted to ensure they could hide both their money and themselves away if need be?

    • Pat 1.1

      is a good theory….whether it is true or not one thing is obvious however, the Key administration has corrupted our institutions beyond recognition…..hopefully not beyond repair.

    • Carolyn_nth 1.2

      I have pondered some of these questions also, Keith.

      was Key dispatched here by the very billionaires he rubbed shoulders with on a daily basis and so desperately coveted to ensure they could hide both their money and themselves away if need be?

      It probably wasn’t a specific instruction. Probably more the outcome of key’s engagement with a range of these wealth individuals and organisations. Probably Key made his own decisions, based on his desire for power and status.

      Also, it is interesting to compare his choice of moment to leave the high finance world, with his decision to leave politics: foreseeing rough waters ahead?

      PS: Love your blogging work, micky.

    • Jenny Kirk 1.3

      I wonder that as well, Keith. There are quite a number of gated lifestyle blocks in the far north, with fabulous houses (Mansions ?) on the east coast with big farms around them which lend themselves to that sort of thinking.

    • Agora 1.4

      .. your untested assumption is that he did so voluntarily. There might have been circumstances which gave him no choice. It would be good practice to challenge received wisdom and cast the net more widely.

    • Wensleydale 1.5

      To be fair, Key was pretty good at driving the bus. Over beneficiaries, students, the working poor, the homeless, the Pike River families and waitresses with ponytails.

      • NewsFlash 1.5.1


        We’re seeing an explosion of wealthy people around the world wanting to “drive the bus”, Trump, Turnbull, all individuals who, because their wealthy, think their entitled to take charge of the rest of us.

      • Agora 1.5.2

        Those are just delusions of grandeur. There are no friends in business. It’s all about the bottom line. If it’s not working out, it’s time to try something different. Trump has put a tougher stand on trade at the centre of his economic policy and appointed a team of China hawks and protectionists to oversee his trade policy. Key might see an opening for himself there .. with no need to be nice.

        The yuan peg will break in time, as the greenback gains momentum. The US$ is locked in a major bull market, rising against every currency. Thiel has added Wanaka to Parnell in his NZ property portfolio.

        All of this created conflicts of interest for Key, which he has just resolved. It will be tough, however, to promote the *national* interest of Aotearoa/New Zealand against the multinationals.

  2. esoteric pineapples 2

    And the Gods looked down upon the land of Aotearoa and saw that all was good. Its land was bountiful and its people amenable. And did at that moment decide it would be their future abode.

  3. esoteric pineapples 3

    And the Gods looked down upon the land of Aotearoa and saw that all was good. Its land was bountiful and its people amenable. And did at that moment decide it would be their future abode, and did send their minion, the man they call John Key, to prepare the land for their arrival.

  4. MG 4

    “However, he said he did not recall dealing with Mr Thiel’s application.”

    I deal with so many applications from well-known billionaires…

    • Wensleydale 4.1

      This is Nathan Guy we’re talking about. He probably doesn’t recall what he had for breakfast this morning.

  5. Jerko 5

    Key is a Leo, it’s all about him. Obama was also a Leo, hence the admiration society between him and Key. Trump is a Gemini, and that is self explanatory. His rising sign is Guess what? Leo! It’s all about him and that orange mane says it all really.
    People here in California were pretty scathing about Theils attachment to Trump. He would have no show of getting the Governors Nod. Gavin Newsom had that practically stitched up.

  6. There is no evidence of impropriety in this case…

    Oh yes there fucking is. In what sense is it proper for the government to be selling NZ citizenship? Especially when it sells citizenship to a monstrous sociopath like Thiel?

  7. dv 7

    Apparently Thiel might become the US ambassador to Germany, I read somewhere.

    Would that be a bit odd, where a NZ citizen is an ambassador for the US in a third country?

    • MikeS 7.1

      I’m sure i read somewhere that to be a US citizen you have to give up all other citizenships?? If that were the case then he couldn’t be both?? Would assume you wold have to be a US citizen to be an ambassador.

      • John Deming 7.1.1

        US citizens can be citizens of another country. There are millions of such dual US citizens.

  8. Paul 8

    I remember reading this article a couple of years ago.

    Where your boss will be come the revolution: ‘Boltholes with airstrips’ in New Zealand that are being bought by world’s super-rich who want a hideout in case of ‘civil uprising’

    The thing that intrigued me was that the main reason cited for billionaires buying up large in New Zealand was not wars or terrorism, but civil unrest in their countries.
    These billionaires are aware that the consequences of neo-liberalism. Extreme inequality makes for a more fragile society, with the chance of revolution and unrest.
    Our failure to tax the rich is an added bonus when selecting this country.

    Interestingly, Peter Thiel is mentioned in the article. I wonder how many of the other billionaires mentioned are also now citizens.

    I have highlighted some key parts of this very interesting article.

    Mr Wallis told CNBC Africa at the Davos gathering that a New Zealand bolthole was ‘a way to get off’, adding: ‘if they (the wealthy) can get off onto another planet, some of them would.I think the rich are worried and they should be worried.’
    He pointed out that the 80 richest people in the world had more wealth than the bottom three-point-five billion: ‘Very soon we’ll get a situation where that one per cent, one percent of the richest people, have more wealth than everybody else (combined), the 99 per cent,’ he said.
    Suggesting that there was a risk the poor would rise up against the rich, he said: ‘What’s happened now mean we are going to see all sorts of social problems.
    It is a breeding ground – not just for terrorism.’

    British-born Terry Spice, director of Luxury Real Estate, said: ‘We certainly see increases in international inquiries to our portfolio of luxury properties throughout the country when a global crisis, civil or global conflict and economy weaknesses are discussed.
    ‘More and more high net worth individuals want a “safe haven” or “legacy asset” they can count on should things go wrong in their country of residence.’

    Matt Finnegan, of Sotheby’s Reality in New Zealand, which handles high value properties, told MailOnline: ‘It might be that the people who don’t particularly want to migrate here still want to have somewhere to run to in times of trouble.’
    We do get comments about personal safety from clients in countries like the US, but there are also expat Britons living in Asia who have expressed concerns about what is happening around them.

    Financial experts attending the recent World Economic Forum in Davos this month revealed many wealthy hedge fund managers have already started planning escapes for themselves and their clients should life in the northern hemisphere descend into chaos.
    Robert Johnson, president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, said: ‘I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.’
    Pointing out that the gap between the rich and the poor was increasing even in wealthy countries, Mr Johnson added: ‘People need to know there are possibilities for their children – that they will have the same opportunity as anyone else.’

    And once there, the New Zealand lifestyle – which has been attracting Brits to its shores for years – is said to be one of the best in the world, with a favourable tax regime as an added bonus.

    In researching this piece, I also found this article, written at the same time.

    Panicked super rich buying boltholes with private airstrips to escape if poor rise up

    • Paul 8.1

      I also found this interview from 2015 most enlightening.
      The first 90 seconds refers to the fear of the uber-rich and Robert Johnson also mentions revolution.
      If you are someone who does not like watching videos, scroll by.

    • Rae 8.2

      I often wonder what makes them think New Zealand will immune to civil unrest in the future.

  9. Pat 9

    Bolt holes! what next?…immortality and the fountain of youth?

    “Many recipients of the Thiel Fellowship are planning to work in some of the areas where Thiel thinks that radical breakthroughs would be most beneficial. For instance, Laura Deming, one of the Thiel Fellows, plans to work on the commercialization of anti-aging research,[12] one of the causes to which Thiel has been a regular donor.”


    • Paul 9.1

      This article will help us get into the mind of the ultra-libertarians like Thiel.
      They clearly add little to a society as they do not believe in it.

      I have highlighted key parts that might explain why Thiel and others might choose NZ as the host country for extreme libertarians.
      My question is why have we selected them?

      Welcome to ‘Libertarian Island’: Inside the Frightening Economic Dreams of Silicon Valley’s Super Rich

      In the clever science fiction video game Bioshock, an Objectivist business magnate named Andrew Ryan (recognize those initials?) creates an underwater city, where the world’s elite members can flourish free from the controls of government. It is a utopian village that Ayn Rand and her hero John Galt would surely approve of, but unfortunately it ends up becoming a dystopian nightmare after class distinctions form (what a shocker) and technological innovation gets out of hand. It was a hell of a video game, for those of you into that kind of thing.

      But I don’t bring up Bioshock to talk about video games. I bring it up because there is currently a similar movement happening in real life, and it is being funded by another rather eccentric businessman, the Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel. As some may already know, Thiel has teamed up with the grandson of libertarian icon Milton Friedman, Patri Friedman, to try and develop a “seastead,” or a permanent and autonomous dwelling at sea. Friedman formed the “Seasteading Institute” in 2008, and Thiel has donated more than a million dollars to fund its creation.

      It is all very utopian, to say the least. But on the website, they claim a floating city could be just years away. The real trick is finding a proper location to build this twenty-first century atlantis. Currently, they are attempting to find a host nation that will allow the floating city somewhat close to land, for the calm waters and ability to easily travel to and from the seastead.

      The project has been coined “libertarian island,” and it reveals a building movement within Silicon Valley; a sort of free market techno-capitalist faction that seems to come right out of Ayn Rand’s imagination.
      And as with all utopian ideologies, it is very appealing, especially when you live in a land where everything seems possible, with the proper technological advancements.

      Tech billionaires like Thiel, Travis Kalanick and Marc Andressen, are leading the libertarian revolution in the land of computers, and it is not a surprising place for this laissez faire ideology to flourish. Silicon Valley is generally considered to have a laid back Californian culture, but behind all of the polite cordialities, there rests a necessary cutthroat attitude. my text

      So while Silicon Valley is no doubt a socially progressive place (i.e. gay marriage), if one looks past social beliefs, there is as much ruthlessness as you’d expect in any capitalist industry. Look at the offshore tax avoidance, the despicable overseas working conditions, the outright violations of privacy and illegal behavior. There is a very real arrogance within Silicon Valley that seems to care little about rules and regulations.

      Libertarianism preaches a night-watchmen government that stays out of businesses way, and allows private industries to regulate themselves.
      It is a utopian ideology, as was communism, that has an almost religious-like faith in the free market, and an absolute distrust of any government. It is a perfect philosophy for a large corporation, like Apple, Google or Facebook. If we lived in an ideal libertarian society, these companies would not have to avoid taxes, because they would be non-existent, and they wouldn’t have to worry about annoying restrictions on privacy. In a libertarian society, these companies could regulate their own actions, and surely Google, with their famous “Don’t be evil” slogan, believes in corporate altruism.

      Rand Paul has had one on one meetings with Mark Zuckerberg, and the floating island billionaire himself, Peter Thiel. The founder and CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick is another noted libertarian, who used to have the cover of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” as his twitter icon.
      Kalanick runs Uber just as a devoted follower of Ayn Rand would, continuously fighting regulators and living by what writer Paul Carr has called the “cult of disruption.” Carr nicely summarizes the philosophy of this cult: “In a digitally connected age, there’s absolutely no need for public carriage laws (or hotel laws, or food safety laws, or… or…) because the market will quickly move to drive out bad actors. If an Uber driver behaves badly, his low star rating will soon push him out of business.”

      • Whispering Kate 9.1.2

        People who suffer from Schizophrenia and Paranoia suffer enough from ridicule and discrimination without having all these idiots being given carte blanche to come down here and live and wanting to create floating cities and life eternal, what massive egos they must have and absolute paranoia as well about their safety to think their life is any more important than any other. They are a blight on our society and are giving genuine mental health sufferers a bad name. We don’t need their eccentric unsociable ideas being planned and schemed down here. Thiel does not sound like a desirable citizen and should never have been granted citizenship. This country is corrupt through and through.

        I think there is more to come out about Key in the future, it was not family reasons, not for one minute, as if his family would persuade him to quit. No siree – he left because he has “no guts” to face up to whatever is or will be divulged about his filthy corruption.

    • The Chairman 9.2

      And he wants young blood? What?

      Thiel is very interested in immortality. He sees society’s acceptance of the inevitability of death as a failure of the imagination.

      One his many life-extending investments is in a “parabiosis” company called Ambrosia, who are currently researching what happens when blood plasma from people under the age of 25 is transfused into people older than 35. The idea is that the young blood heals the ravages of aging in the old.

      In an interview with Inc, Thiel described this practice as “underexplored.”

      “I’m looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting. This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found that had a massive rejuvenating effect. And so that’s … that is one that … again, it’s one of these very odd things where people had done these studies in the 1950s and then it got dropped altogether.”


    • John Deming 9.3

      Laura Deming is a New Zealand citizen. She grew up in Remuera. At age 11, Laura was invited to work at a graduate lab of molecular biology at University of California by a world famous scientist Cynthia Kenyon. She currently runs a venture capital fund, the Longevity Fund, in San Francisco that invests in biotech companies focused on ameliorating human ageing. Her fund has already generated very high returns. Laura is also a scientist working on understanding the causes of ageing to ultimately develop pragmatic therapies that restore physiological youthfulness and prevent the onset of most terminal illnesses

  10. Sabine 10

    How much are the National Party finances tied to the very wealthy immigrants?

    any one cares to check?

    as for why John Key came to be PM, he needed ‘middle management’ experience to go further up in the world of money. IF one thinks about it, NZ is ‘middle management’ in size of population and GDP compared to many many of the very big global corporations.
    i am sure the guy has a bright future ahead, after all he done selling the country. The scraps are now for Blinglish and the other stooges of the do fuck all national government to share among themselves.

    brighter future y’all. Fuck Yeah!

    • Keith 10.1

      True, National resisted tooth and nail to have political donations exposed in the last year of the last Labour government. Called it anti democratic or some such bullshit. Helen Clark knew all too well that to put the cleansing light of day on such donations would have wounded the National Party spectacularly.

    • Siobhan 10.2

      Of course the same Scoop article quoted here is largely about Kim Dotcom, a name mysteriously missing from this conversation…I wonder if John Key realised how messy that would get, or did he see how that would create further chaos on the “left’.

  11. joe90 11

    Theil doesn’t really like us plebes having our say.

    I remain committed to the faith of my teenage years: to authentic human freedom as a precondition for the highest good. I stand against confiscatory taxes, totalitarian collectives, and the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual. For all these reasons, I still call myself “libertarian.”

    But I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. By tracing out the development of my thinking, I hope to frame some of the challenges faced by all classical liberals today.


  12. Simon 12

    “Mr. Thiel’s admiration for New Zealand is longstanding. “Utopia,” he once called it. He has an investment firm in the country that has put millions into local start-ups.” I would have thought someone like Thiel who can bring Silicon Valley closer to NZ and thereby help the Greens in their quest for a smarter economy would be welcomed with open arms. Imagine if he can help wean us off our reliance on dairy? Surly that would be positive? Or do you all want to keep swimming in festering rivers? Hes obviously supporting local companies with capital and creating jobs at the same time so why is everybody out to get him? The usual tall poppy syndrome I expect. I imagine as a libertarian if he was going to donate to a political party here it would be ACT but keep up the conspiracy theories – they do make for an amusing read.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      We’ve already got people with the necessary skills that want to do that in NZ but the present system keeps the necessary resources to do it from them. That’s what capitalism does.

    • Pat 12.2

      and to invest he requires citizenship?…and invest dictates an expected return, not a gift…..why donate to ACT when the Minister with the “flexibility” was a National Party member? As to libertarian strange that he should align with Trump, perhaps its selective libertarianism that kicks in at around 1billion US and it’s authoritarianism for everyone else?…..personally I suspect he’s just another head case, but with lots of cash.

  13. timbeau 13

    I think there are real questions to answer here about whether Thiel’s citizenship h as been granted in contravention of the law. Could there be a judicial review of the Minister’s decision, funded like Nicky Hager’s defence by a crowdfunding campaign?

    Matt Nippert suggested that the citizenship was granted under section 9(1)(c) of the Immigration Act, and this was confirmed by the Minister’s office today in the Radio New Zealand report.

    Section 9(1)(c) of the Immigration Act says:

    9 Grant of citizenship in special cases

    (1) … the Minister may, upon application in the prescribed manner, authorise the grant of New Zealand citizenship to any person

    (c) if the Minister is satisfied that granting a certificate of New Zealand citizenship to the applicant would be in the public interest because of exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature relating to the applicant…

    Now, it’s a long time since I did LAWS 101, but I wonder whether the ejusdem generis rule applies here, by which a general term (“or other nature”) takes its meaning from the words preceding it (“exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature”). If that’s so, then the “exceptional circumstances” of paragraph 9(1)(c) would be constrained by the word “humanitarian”? I’m rusty, but I think normally ejusdem generis applies when there’s a list, and this isn’t a list – it doesn’t say “humanitarian, compassionate or other nature”. But if Parliament meant “exceptional circumstances” to give total discretion to the minister, then why is the word “humanitarian” used at all?

    I would suggest therefore that the grant of citizenship it is based on an error of law, and could therefore be overturned in the High Court.

    At the risk of sounding like a Graeme McCready sort of nutter, is there someone out there wililng to take this on? Could Felix Geiringer or Jane Kelsey or someone be persuaded, with some help from Give a Little?

    As I see it, it’s more than just prinicple (and it is that!) – it’s also a very concrete instance of the kind of government actions that make regular New Zealanders feel like aliens in their own country.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1


      That would make an interesting court case and would get rid of a quite a few bludgers.

  14. Red 14

    Can’t be to much corruption going on here. I see Transparancy International has nz as number one as the most least corrupt nation on the planet with Denmark

  15. Siobhan 15

    An article about Zero, Herald, 4th April 2014.
    “New Zealand’s second-largest listed company lost about $35 million in the year ended March 31, more than double last year’s $14.4 million loss, the Wellington-based company said in a statement citing unaudited figures. The company increased staff numbers to 758 from 382 over the year, it said.”

    Exactly what is Zeros relationship with NZ. How many staff does it actually employ here?. And I have no idea how this stuff works…but how much tax do they pay given their quite impressive loses.

    And then there is this…..”Xero chairman Chris Liddell will step down from the board at the end of the week to take up a role in US president-elect Donald Trump’s administration.”

    Are Xero really the sort of company we want here?? Are they hoping to be the Goldman Sacs, Citibank of the future when it comes to political shenanigans??

    • Red 15.1

      Xero are an online subscription based accountancy software company ie MYOB, not an investment bank, of course they are exactly the type of businesses we want here re the information economy They make losses as they are in high growth and investment phase Likewise the provide great jobs and pay salaries well above average

      • Siobhan 15.1.1

        Well thanks for the sales pitch. And I can see you are genuinely thrilled to have a representative of the ‘Information Economy’ here.
        But could you tell me, just another sucker in the ‘real economy’, how much tax they pay here and how many people they employ here?? The last thing we need is some business run along the lines of Amazon etc.

        • Red

          I suspect no income tax as loss making but significant payroll tax as head off is here and many high paying IT jobs in nz , ie software engineering, system design etc how many I suggest you go do your own research but you are barking up the wrong tree here trying to diss this company, Xero is exactly the type of company the Callaghan fund , labour and national promote to lift nz productivity, economic diversification and wagres You quoting amazon really high lights your ignorance here, go and do some research

        • Roflcopter

          ummm Xero is a NZ company.

          • Red

            Ah yes Einstien that tends to be the case if your head office is resident in nz Who said it wasn’t, it’s siohban who is confused about the nature of Xero, I suggest her book store owner bias re disintermediation by amazon and like has her all worked up re any e commerce even though Xero and amazom are not remotely comparable

          • Siobhan

            Correct. Well, New Zealand-based to be accurate.


            Nice book shop..amazon issues tie in there Red. But my point is about companies ‘based’ in whatever country suits, and their creative tax arrangements. It’s not a matter of confusion, nor the mysterious and no doubt terribly modern ‘nature’ of Xero. Its a simple query about their real value to our economy, and the price we are willing to pay.

            • Siobhan

              Hi Siobhan, Can’t quite answer that, but did find this..(my bolds)

              “Hon BILL ENGLISH: Can I say to the member that outrage does not fix the problem. This is a matter of New Zealand tax law and how it interfaces with international tax law. The way we proceed on that needs to keep in mind one factor the member has not mentioned, and that is that if a very successful New Zealand company, like Xero for instance, has hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of sales in Australia but has no taxable profit, we do not actually want the Australian Government just arbitrarily deciding to tax them. So we have to keep in mind that whatever treatment we applied here will be applied to New Zealand companies overseas. That is why we work with other countries to try to make it fair.”

              No we certainly wouldn’t want a NZ company paying tax in a country where it makes money. No sir.

              • Red

                You bank profit and pay tax on profit not sales and revenue I suggest Xero pay like tax anywhere as once everything is accounted for they make a loss on worldwide and local sales They are in global growth phase so have huge investment and devopment costs hence why no profit, now no more help go away and do some research

            • Stunned Mullet

              What price do you believe ‘we’ are paying for Xero to be running business in NZ ?

              Perhaps if your were to clearly state your concerns people could answer them.

              • Siobhan

                My concern is that they become yet another company that mysteriously makes very little or even no profit, like all the usual suspects. Certainly their announcements of high losses always seems to result in an immediate jump in share price.

                ‘Global growth’ phases have a tendency to become permanent, and often appear very contrived. Its rather hard to get excited about such large companies who’s main contribution to the economy is the tax that their employees pay from their own pay packet.

                Its that sort of thing that leaves the Governments cupboard bare and results in endless austerity and service cuts, while at the same time we have to read endless articles about ‘Growth’.

                • Stunned Mullet

                  The emlpoyees don’t pay the tax from their own pocket it’s removed and payed directly to the IRD via the employer’s PAYE.

                  As many have stated XERO is a newish NZ company in growth phase therefore it is making a loss and pays no tax virtually all new companies will go through this kind of growth phase.

                  I’d expect that their share prospectus will give an idea of when they will be come a profitable enterprise.

                  I also can’t see how they contribute to leaving the governments cupboard bare as they pay employees who pay tax and spend into the local economy.

                  • Siobhan

                    I know you don’t get it. You clearly don’t think large corporations have any social/tax responsibilities beyond what their workers spend and pay in tax. Fine. But maybe you can think about this on the sale of eBus..

                    “The sale raises (yet again) the awkward issue of why so many NZ tech companies – such as Navman, Right Hemisphere, Next Window, Endace, Sonar6, EMS-Cortex and Zeacom – end up in the hands of foreign owners, many after getting a helping hand from the Crown.”


                    • stunned mullet

                      I would fully support a policy that would ensure all companies that have been given seed or start up assistance or government grants having to pay back all the grant money if and when they are sold.

                    • Red

                      They where sold because they reached their peak to grow efficiently under a private ownership, entrepreneurial model , that’s just the capital markets doing its job, what would you rather, wither and die You need to think outside your socialist constructs Stunned mullets point is fair, I would go further any investment by government should be equity to pick up upside on successful companies

                  • UncookedSelachimorpha

                    ” employees who pay tax” …while the owners make much, much more in capital gains and don’t pay a cent of tax on them.


                • rocco siffred

                  “Its rather hard to get excited about such large companies who’s main contribution to the economy is the tax that their employees pay from their own pay packet.”

                  Xero’s main contribution to the economy is the software it creates. Generating taxation is not the purpose of companies.

            • Hutty

              Xero will pay no corporate tax at the moment as they are loss making. (I.e in simple terms, their total expenses are greater than total sales). There is no money for anyone to tax. However as soon as they earn $1 of profit they will pay corporate taxes.

              In the meantime their losses will eat away at shareholder capital.
              As Red said above, their employees will be PAYE tax.

  16. roy cartland 16

    “flexibility” it’s called. What a sick joke. We simply can’t afford billionaires and shouldn’t put up with them.


    • Oh come on chaps,’ Lets show a bit of flexibility’

      • Pat 16.1.1

        Think the contortionists in the Nat cabinet have more than enough for everyone….emphasis on the “con”

    • Sacha 16.2

      Blinglish from that article:

      “It’s not a case of whether wealthy people can jump the queue, it’s whether people have particular skills, particular contributions that don’t quite meet the criteria.”

  17. Draco T Bastard 17

    As a member of Trump’s administration there’s no doubt that he’s going to do something that is morally reprehensible and probably a crime. When he does we should take him to court and, when found guilty, remove his NZ citizenship. It won’t be a hardship to him as he doesn’t actually live here.

    • NewsFlash 17.1


      ” we should take him to court and, when found guilty”

      Unfortunately, wealthy people are invariably never found guilty of anything, and it doesn’t seem to matter what country the trial is in.

      Wealth buys innocents.

  18. Anno1701 18

    we are in late stage near terminal capitalism, EVERYTHING is for sale incl citizenship, it has to be to keep the whole ponzi scheme running

    Ironically we used to STRONGLY criticize our pacific neighbors for their “cash for passports” schemes ( Kiribati, Samoa ETC )

  19. xanthe 19

    My questions are:
    If we did not know about thiel who else got citizenship thru the same process?
    Was JK selling NZ citizenships and if so how was he paid?
    Where were the bloody journo’s when this was happening?

    • Roflcopter 19.1

      Well, citizenship usually follows residency status granted…. residency was granted in 2006… oops.

      • Sacha 19.1.1

        Citizenship has stricter criteria than residency – and you’re echoing the right’s line as faithfully as some of our media with that ‘they did it too’ false equivalence.

      • Draco T Bastard 19.1.2

        And they also need to live here for better than 70% of the time from that granting for the next five years which it appears he didn’t do.

      • Paul Campbell 19.1.3

        But no one’s claiming he didn’t meet the requirements for residency – he definitely didn’t meet the citizenship requirements, apparently sim ply because he was too busy to – so he bought himself a citizenship instead.

        It’s definitely past time that National opens its donations books – they’ve been funneling money through secret trusts for years, much of that had to go away when we had some reform a few years back. Really there’s NO reason why any political donation of any size should ever be secret.

  20. Bill English says:
    “”If you have a system that is completely bound by the rules, then we could miss out on people where it is in New Zealand’s interests to have them here, so a little bit of flexibility I think works as long as you don’t get too carried away or create too much uncertainty.”

    That’s okay then.

    • You too,- show some flexibility, for gods sake man, of course its okay.

      • Carolyn_nth 20.1.1

        Please, then Mr Bling, could we grant residency & then citizenship, to Edward Snowden? Good humanitarian exception! Excellent skills to bring to NZ.

        • Chris

          And to the countless people who’ve come here, either with NZ partners or married here, created families, worked hard, and then get kicked out because of an inflexible approach to what’s meant to be flexible rules based on humanitarian grounds, where families are ripped apart for the sole purpose of wanting to look tough on immigration?

          English disgusts me. Let’s hope more of this evil shit gets exposed before the election.

        • The decrypter

          Bit tied up at the moment as apparently Helen wants to live here now.

        • James

          Great idea. I suggest he flies in via LAX.

    • Bearded Git 20.2

      We have laws…and then we have other laws for rich people.

      I think we should be told exactly how many days Thiel has been in the country in the “20 years” he has been coming here. OI request.

      I live in Wanaka and will bring any publicly notified resource consent* Thiel submits for his property to the attention of The Standard bloggers. Maybe we can get a few thousand objections.

      *under the latest changes to the RMA, if enacted, nothing will be publicly notified. Well done the Maori Party for supporting this. (sarc)

  21. Doug 21

    Thiel had “demonstrated his commitment to New Zealand” over the last 11 years, after becoming a permanent resident in 2006.

    He had also made a number of high-profile contributions to the country, including a $1 million donation to the Christchurch earthquake appeal fund and a number of investments in Kiwi companies.

    English said there needed to be a balance between giving everyone a fair chance of citizenship, and encouraging those who would make a positive difference to New Zealand.

    Thiel has been coming to NZ for the past twenty years that’s commitment.

    • fisiani 21.1

      The Extreme Left want to harass him for being rich, conservative and a Trump supporter . He is a Kiwi and one of the 4,753,112 people who live in the greatest country on Earth. He is not a criminal.

      • Rae 21.1.1

        If another paranoid schizophrenic turned up at the border, minus piles of money, he’d be turned away pdq.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 21.2

      “$1 million donation to the Christchurch earthquake appeal fund”

      = less than 0.03% of his personal wealth (USD 2.7b)

      Equivalent to someone with the average NZ 2015 personal wealth of about $289k donating $87. And Thiel will miss it much less than most.

      Well done Mr Thiel. The peasants appreciate your crumbs.

  22. veutoviper 22

    I have only flicked through the comments above,, but my perception is that a particular connection that Thiel has had and still has with NZ is possibly being overlooked. Obviously he has connetions with Zero etc but IMHO the connection of real interest is his involvement with Palantir – and its connections to the GCSB. five eyes etc.

    I don’t have time to be more specific but I suggest that you read in detail the link to the backgrounder done by Karol in 2014 linked to in the post above (and further information in the comments to that earlier post) . Here is the link again.

    Networks of influence: Key, Peter Thiel & the GCSB

    Key’s comments about his connections with Thiel are interesting.

    Palantir has not disappeared although you rarely hear anything about it these days. It still has offices etc on The Terrace in Wellington., a stone’s throw from the GCSB and SIS And there are plenty of interesting articles on their activities in NZ if you google “palantir nz”. a number of these also refer to John Key and his knowledge etc of Thiel. I expect we may see more about these aspects in the media in the near future.

    Ps – I understand that Thiel was actually born in Germany but grew up in the US, and now has joint US/NZ citizenship. There are also suggestions that he is seeking or may become Trump’s US Ambassador to Germany … talk about circles.

  23. Mrs Brillo 23

    Ben Elton got there first, in 1989:

    • Sabine 23.1

      oh my gosh, i have been mentioning this book so many times.

      I can only urge people to read it.
      Not only is it almost prophetic for the time, but it is also hilariously funny.

  24. Incognito 24

    I think it is pretty obvious that Mr Thiel has outspoken political views and aspirations and as a NZ citizen he can stand for Parliament; this is the one thing that residency does not allow.

  25. Lloyd 25

    Nothing wrong with a foreign billionaire becoming a citizen as long as the IRD rapidly converts them into just a millionaire.

  26. Thomme the Templar 26

    The reason they are “floundering to explain how” is because they have to go back to 2006 when his citizenship was granted under a LABOUR government.

    [r0b: No – residency was granted under Labour, a minor matter. Citizenship was granted in 2011 under a national government.]

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