ROCKY PATH: Richard O'Brien has been battling to attain New Zealand residency. (Photo: TIMES FILE)
Source: Waikato Times print edition
2 August 2010
By BRUCE HOLLOWAY and The Dominion Post
The Government has intervened to allow Rocky Horror Picture Show creator Richard O'Brien to attain New Zdealand, a move welcomed by the city's most famous cross-dresser and his supporters.
While the 68-year-old creator and star of the Rocky Horro Show has had his contribution to popular culture immortalised in a statue of his on-satge alter-ego Riff Raff in Hamilton , and always called New Zealand home, he somehow never got around to making it official.
His age meant he faced seemingly insurmountable immigration criteria in attempting to spend his golden years on his Katikati lifestyle property, in the country in which he largely grew up.
But immigration adviser Dion Smart confirmed his client was almost certainly getting New Zealand residency after Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson pledged to make an exception to the usual criteria.
Mr O'Brien, speaking from his London home, said he would prefer to have his citizenship – another step up the ladder to becoming an official New Zealander – "rubber-stamped".
"I don't want anybody to think I'm grandstanding. All I wanted to do is belong. It's always been home. I feel a big swell of love and generosity of spirit all around me in New Zealand.
"I'm a peculiar-looking person. I'm a trannie – but I'm their trannie."
The breakthrough was also a victory for Riff Raff Public Arts Trust chairman Mark Servian, who lobbied hard for Mr O'Brien. "It's still some way off from what Richard wants in terms of citizenship, but it is a waypoint," Mr Servian said.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Simcock was also pleased. "Richard has been shown to have a very strong connection with New Zealand and a very strong family link," he said.
"I'm very pleased if he can live out his life here."
Ms Wilkinson was unable to comment on individual cases, but a spokesman said it was not uncommon for her to intervene in "special circumstances".