Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


New Zealand has often been imagined as a place of refuge in the event of social, ecological, economic or another catastrophe. The Covid-19 pandemic drew heightened attention to the desirability of access to a remote and temperate country. For ‘preppers’ of Silicon Valley, such access represents a form of apocalypse insurance. Google co-founder Larry Page was able to enter the country, when it was effectively sealed off to outsiders, to secure medical treatment for his child. To the surprise of many, who have been waiting months if not years for their residency applications to be processed, his investor category class right to residency was processed in a matter of weeks. But the ultimate apocalypse insurance policy was issued in secret to Peter Thiel, who was able to gain citizenship, and so a New Zealand passport, without meeting the usual residency requirements.

This essay examines this extraordinary grant of citizenship in the context of neoliberal immigration policies. It contrasts the privilege extended to Thiel with the usual experience of people immigrating to New Zealand, who must reside for at least five years in the country, and thereby establish themselves as citizens who belong within the political community. Metaphors and analogies are used to elucidate the unequal and unconscionable preference Thiel enjoyed.