NZ media reports this morning that the libertarian (and Trump supporter) Peter Thiel, the man who financed the bankrupting of Gawker, is actually a New Zealand citizen and has been for at least five years:

“Facebook billionaire and Donald Trump donor Peter Thiel has gained New Zealand citizenship and purchased a 193-hectare lifestyle block in Wanaka. Thiel purchased the property just outside Wanaka through his company Second Star Limited in April 2015 for $13.5 million, according to property records.

“A spokeswoman for the Overseas Investment Office said the purchase did not need to follow rules for the sale of sensitive land to foreign buyers as Thiel was a New Zealand citizen. The Department of Internal affairs, which handles applications for citizenship, requires people to have lived in New Zealand for five years, for at least 240 days during each. Applicants must also speak English and be “of good character”, along with already having the right to be in New Zealand indefinitely. Those who do not meet the requirements may still be granted citizenship in special cases, including if the applicant could provide some advantage, or positive benefit to New Zealand.”

According to the Kiwi media reports this morning, there is no record of Thiel spending the requisite time in NZ in the past five or six years, so the citizenship was conferred on him by either a senior public servant or the government of former PM John Key.

In 2013, he bought $147 million of shares in NZX-listed technology company Xero. Kiwi businessman Chris Liddell was last week named as one of Trump’s White House assistants. He quit as chair of Xero to take the White House gig — now fancy that.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey