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Drury, Morgan backed Thiel for citizenship

NZN 1/02/2017 Sophie Boot

Xero founder Rod Drury and TradeMe founder Sam Morgan wrote letters of support for Peter Thiel's application for New Zealand citizenship, which was approved under the "exceptional circumstances" provisions of the Citizenship Act, Department of Internal Affairs documents show.

In the 150 pages of documents, released at 5.10 pm on Wednesday, Mr Drury and Mr Morgan wrote letters "validating the skills and connections Mr Thiel has" as part of his application for citizenship.

Mr Thiel, the San Francisco-based billionaire investor and Facebook board member, applied to be granted citizenship under exceptional circumstances, specifically that as an entrepreneur and philanthropist there was public interest in him using his skills in New Zealand and on behalf of New Zealanders.

"As a world-class entrepreneur Mr Thiel believes that with the right support New Zealand can achieve a place at the top of the world's list of best countries for entrepreneurs," DIA said in its letter recommending Thiel's citizenship be approved.

"Mr Thiel states that New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for establishing businesses."

In his letter, Mr Drury said Mr Thiel was "well known in the international technology industry for his numerous achievements" and he and his team had been proactive in connecting Xero and Pacific Fibre with their networks in the US.

'"Peter is a leading global player and we believe his connections will generate immeasurable opportunities for New Zealand," Mr Drury said.

Mr Morgan said that New Zealand needs to connect to the world to enable tech companies to reach their potential, and Mr Thiel was a "wealthy and well connected" entrepreneur and investor who could help local companies "find the talent and capital they need to reach their potential."

"I believe Peter is committed to New Zealand and that he can make a tremendous contribution to the technology industry and to New Zealand's success," Mr Morgan said.

Mr Thiel also wrote a letter seeking citizenship, where he said he admired the country and had "consistently found New Zealanders to be open and friendly, with a 'no nonsense' way of getting the job done".

"I appreciate I would not ordinarily qualify for a grant of citizenship under such circumstances, but believe I am an exception in that my business, travel and range of interests is international and in that regard, I believe that I am in a similar category to other New Zealanders - Douglas Myers, Graeme Hart, Chris Liddell, are names that come to mind," Mr Thiel said.

"I am happy to say categorically that I have found no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand."

Mr Thiel is a member of US President Donald Trump's transition team, having donated to his campaign, and a long-time libertarian who has in the past invested in the exploration of seasteading, the development of a floating city in international waters which could serve as a politically autonomous settlement.

Mr Liddell, formerly chairman of Xero, has joined the Mr Trump as a strategic adviser in the White House.

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