8 September 2010
By TOM HUNT
Richard O'Brien has New Zealand residency after Government intervention.
O'Brien's immigration adviser, Dion Smart, has confirmed the Government has now officially approved residency for New Zealand-raised O'Brien, creator of The Rocky Horror Show.
O'Brien, who was born in Britain and lives there at present, would now seek a Government waiver to speed up becoming a New Zealand citizen, Mr Smart said.
The Dominion Post revealed last month that Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson had pledged to make an exception for O'Brien to the usual residency criteria – that applicants be 55 or under and have a job offer in New Zealand.
O'Brien, 68, has passed police and health checks, meaning his residency has been approved. Mr Smart said an application would now be made to Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy to waive the usual requirement for people to have had residency for five years before applying for citizenship.
O'Brien told The Dominion Post last month he would prefer to have his citizenship, another step to becoming a 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."
O'Brien has been back to New Zealand regularly since the 1960s and wants to retire to Katikati, north of Tauranga, where he has a 2 1/2-acre property. Two of his siblings live in Tauranga. His son, who lives in Wellington, is also applying for residency.
O'Brien came to New Zealand as a 10-year-old with his family in 1952. He spent his teenage years and early 20s in Hamilton and Tauranga. He left in 1964 for London.
In 2004, he was honoured with a statue in Hamilton of his Rocky Horror character, the creepy butler Riff Raff, erected on the site of the barber shop where he worked before leaving for Britain.
Mr Smart said O'Brien was "very pleased" his residency application had been approved. He is expected to be the narrator in a New Zealand tour of The Rocky Horror Show in October.
However, he is still expected to share his time between New Zealand and Europe, where he had theatrical commitments.