New Zealand should be 'targeting' other big listers for citizenship - Rod Drury
Xero chief executive Rod Drury says New Zealand should not stop with Peter Thiel when it comes to granting citizenship to wealthy influential people.
In an interview with RNZ on Thursday morning Drury defended Thiel's New Zealand citizenship and said: "We should be asking Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, or Bill Gates - those are the people we should be targeting."
US businessman Thiel was granted citizenship almost six years ago on exceptional circumstances, based on his skill as an entrepreneur and philanthropic activities.
Drury and Trade Me founder Sam Morgan wrote letters in support of Thiel's citizenship application.
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But when approached about Thiel's citizenship application last week, Drury said he was not aware of it.
"I wasn't sure, I had to go back and check. I didn't want to be a part of the story at that stage," he said on Wednesday.
But he said that he "absolutely" had written a letter in support of Thiel.
When questioned if it was appropriate for Thiel to be granted citizenship after only visiting the country four times, Drury said it didn't matter.
"These guys have residencies all over the world but he had a soft spot for New Zealand," Drury said.
"The Trump stuff makes it difficult but in the last six or seven years while we've been involved with him he's been fantastic.
"It's good for New Zealand, absolutely it's good for New Zealand. He's making it easier for us to grow global networks and why aren't we using him as a tool to attract others?"
Drury was asked if Thiel effectively bought his citizenship, to which Drury said, "I think we willingly gave it [to him]."
"We need to start looking after ourselves and maybe in some areas we should be playing to win.
"It's a hard thing to bring up and it's an emotional discussion, but maybe it's more rational to encourage these relationships," he said.
Xero had recently been dealing with a backlash from customers after its company chairman Chris Liddell decided to take up a key position in the Trump Administration.
Drury said last week that Liddell's appointment was "incredibly exciting" and that Liddell would be able to do "good things" in his new role.
* Audio courtesy of RNZ