Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Peter Thiel Gains New Zealand Citizenship as Tech Elites Prep for Doomsday

Peter Thiel giving a speech in July at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Peter Thiel giving a speech in July at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The New Yorker has published a fascinating article about Silicon Valley tech titans who are buying up property in New Zealand as they prepare for the apocalypse. The super rich are worried about the poor grabbing “pitchforks” to overthrow the wealthy, and it turns out these elites aren’t just buying homes. Some, like Peter Thiel, are even getting citizenship.

Advertisement

Today, The New Zealand Herald is reporting that Peter Thiel has citizenship in New Zealand, a fact previously unknown to most in Silicon Valley. The revelation only came after the newspaper started to investigate a 477-acre property that Thiel had purchased in the country in 2015. The newspaper had inquired about why Thiel hadn’t gotten official approval to buy the property under foreign ownership laws. The paper was told that Thiel didn’t need it because he was a citizen.

Thiel, a billionaire who currently serves on President Donald Trump’s transition team, isn’t the only mega rich businessperson staking out a claim in New Zealand. According to The New Zealand Herald, people from outside the country bought up roughly 1,350 square miles of New Zealand property in the first ten months of 2016. The paper says that’s over four times as much as the same period in 2010.

Advertisement

“Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more,” Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, told The New Yorker.

Some of those setting up apocalypse homes in New Zealand have genuine concerns that a Donald Trump presidency will destroy the United States in some fashion. This, of course, is a bit ironic given Thiel’s own role in the new administration. It should probably be noted that Thiel helped bankrupt Gizmodo’s former parent company, Gawker Media, by funding a series of lawsuits aimed at destroying the company.

“What’s the percentage chance that Trump is actually a fascist dictator? Maybe it’s low, but the expected value of having an escape hatch is pretty high,” The New Yorker article quotes one ultra wealthy prepper as saying.

But New Zealand isn’t the only place where the mega rich are setting up shop for life and leisure. Steve Wozniak gained residency in nearby Australia in 2014. His wife is Australian, and he’s said that he likes the idea of being able to “die an Australian.” That’s perhaps more innocuous than the goals of the many anonymous Silicon Valley titans buying up property in New Zealand for armageddon, but it’s still a nice way to straddle the Pacific in relative safety.

Advertisement

And this wave to the South Pacific is unlikely to stop, for both the wealthy and the common person alike. In the week following President Trump’s election, a whopping 13,401 Americans applied for residency in New Zealand—a full 17 times the normal rate, according to The New Yorker.

Gizmodo has reached out to representatives of Mr. Thiel to seek confirmation of Thiel’s citizenship in New Zealand and ask about any other countries in which he may have citizenship.

Advertisement

Update, January 25th, 5:40am: The New Zealand Herald is now reporting that Peter Thiel gained citizenship in 2011. As the newspaper notes, no one can quite figure out how he gained citizenship, as the requirements usually demand living in the country for at least five years. The New Zealand government is now officially looking into how he gained citizenship.

“As Minister I tended to follow the advice of [Department of Internal Affairs] officials on these issues; I’m advised officials recommended granting citizenship in this particular case,” Minister Nathan Guy, who oversaw citizenship manners in 2011, told the New Zealand Herald.

Advertisement

Thiel has still not responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment and has also declined to comment on the case to the New York Times.

“It just seems very, very unlikely that Mr. Thiel lived in New Zealand for the majority of his time for the five years preceding 2011 and went unnoticed,” Iain Lees-Galloway, a spokesman for New Zealand’s Labour Party told The Times. “We’re a small country, he’s a very wealthy man, he’s a man who is prominent in the business world. I think he would have stood out in New Zealand.”

Advertisement

[New Zealand Herald and The New Yorker]

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

enkidu98001
Enkidu98001

And this is why I consider many of the ‘Rich’ to be the worst examples of Humanity. They take and only take. They use their wealth and power to rig the rules in their favour. When things get tough, they run away.

all of this is because their greed has known no bounds. They were not content in the general 27 to 1 wealth distribution in their favour at the beginning of Reagan’s terms. No.. they have consistently chipped away at the American Social contract for decades an we’re at or above an 81 to 1 wealth disparity which still is not big enough for them and while they continue to try to shape a nation that benefits them even more at the expense of all the others they are now afraid of the results of so many unhappy people.

You created this and now you run away in fear. You _should_ live in fear it is exactly because you have taken so much that people will seek to get it back and they have been pushed so hard that it will certainly someday come to violence as it has time and again. You learn nothing from the experience of the people who came before you.

They would not be coming for you if they did not need to. You and your pathological greed has take from everyone else and now you are the source of the resources. Of course they are coming for you, you have what they need.

Pity that.... and to know that if only you had shared more equitably (not even _equally_ just more equitably) you would not now need to fear.