What does a celebrity have to do to get a slice of our paradise?
Like the kid in primary school with the yummiest lunch, everyone wants a piece of New Zealand. More specifically, when Americans (and Brits and Australians) don’t like an election candidate, they threaten to move to New Zealand. The day after George W Bush was re-elected in 2004, New Zealand’s immigration services website was visited 10,300 times by Americans, four times its usual daily traffic. When Donald Trump was elected in 2016, that number jumped to 17,000.
Of the 17,000, more than a few have been popular figures with a lot of money. Some (Silicon Valley entrepreneurs) have already bought land here with the intention of relocating as the world crumbles. With the country’s interests at heart, I’ve established individualised requirements for these immigrants before their big move.
Background: Former FBI-director and terrible social media user James Comey alluded to observing American politics “from my new home in New Zealand” if Trump was re-elected in 2020. It appeared to be a joke, but with Comey it’s hard to tell what’s a joke and what’s not. For example, shortly after the release of the Mueller Report, he tweeted a photo of his very tall self standing alone in the woods with the caption, “so many questions”. You just know he thinks the trees will talk back to him after watching The Lord of the Rings.
Requirements: Never, ever, ever, ever post a photo like this to social media while on New Zealand soil.
Status: I’m confident that Comey would not be able to help himself in the ‘grammable New Zealand forests and therefore his request is denied.
Background: Famous pop star Ed Sheeran has loved New Zealand since before it was cool. He’s talked about his love for the country a number of times over the past decade, culminating in asking the prime minister to help him gain citizenship. Jacinda Ardern’s response was soft, asking only for his take on jandals and pineapple lumps. Sheeran has influence and that influence must be used positively if he is to become a New Zealander.
Requirements: The cost of citizenship for Ed Sheeran is a letter of reference from his close friend Peter Jackson. The letter of reference must include a promise from the director to stop trying to take over the whole of Wellington and to stop influencing law changes that prevent his cast and crews from unionising. Also an ongoing financial contribution to the Women’s Refuge.
Status: Pending withdrawal of Peter Jackson from Wellington Domination Project.
Background: Peter Thiel has already been granted citizenship but hasn’t lived in New Zealand for any extended period of time. He owns a lot of land in the South Island and has reportedly built a panic room in which to see out an apocalypse. Thiel is also a billionaire. Did you know that if you earned $5000 a day and worked seven days a week for 500 years and didn’t spend a single dollar, you still wouldn’t be a billionaire? Peter Thiel is a billionaire.
Requirements: The cost of citizenship for Peter Thiel is the sponsorship of 100 refugee New Zealanders. The cost of hosting a refugee New Zealander is approximately $100,000 per year for the first three years. That’s $300,000 per person. That’s $30m total. The cost of that to Peter Thiel, a billionaire, is the equivalent of me donating $12.50 a week to a charity for one year. Equity over equality.
Status: Pending. No one should have that much money.
Background: In 2018, former NBC host and personality Matt Lauer paid $18m for Hunter Valley Station, a frankly huge property sitting on Lakes Wanaka and Hawea. In order to maintain the lease on the land, Lauer is required to continually demonstrate that he is ‘of good character’. In 2017, Lauer was fired by NBC after allegations arose of continued sexual harassment of female staffers. It was revealed that Lauer had a button under his desk which allowed him to lock his office door from the inside without getting up. In October 2019, it was reported that one of the earlier allegations of sexual misconduct was an allegation of rape.
Requirements: Do not pass go (New Zealand), do not collect $200, do go directly to jail.
Background: He was good in When Harry Met Sally and the first time he hosted the Oscars and sitting courtside at LA Clippers basketball games. But is that enough for Billy Crystal to become a New Zealander? Crystal said in 2016 that if Donald Trump won the election he “might consider finding a nice little ranch in New Zealand.”
Requirements: No comedy gags about New Zealand. Never meet Peter Jackson. Must become lifetime courtside supporter (and owner) of the nearest NBL basketball team.
Status: Pending. Likely to be granted as New Zealand Basketball could really do with some money.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Background: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is currently the second coolest politically-minded person in America behind Jane Fonda. In July of 2016, the Supreme Court Justice joked that her late husband would say “now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand” prior to the general election. At 86, she’s been through the wringer, three different types of cancer, the most recent being two cancerous nodules cut from her lungs. And returning to work in the Supreme Court mere days after fracturing three ribs in a fall. The woman needs to rest. She’s Buck Shelford with a law degree and New Zealand would be lucky to have her.
Requirements: Please don’t die immediately upon arrival.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.