New Zealand lets in Rocky Horror's Riff Raff: adviser

7th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Riff Raff has been granted residency in New Zealand after The Rocky Horror Show creator waged a lengthy battle to move to the country where he came of age, his immigration adviser said Tuesday.

Richard O'Brien, the 68-year-old British-born creator of the cult musical, wanted to retire to New Zealand but was told in June he did not fit the criteria for citizenship or permanent residency.

The decision sparked a Facebook protest that attracted more than 3,500 members.

O'Brien's immigration adviser Dion Smart said authorities in Wellington had overturned the decision, clearing the way for him to move to New Zealand.

"They've given him residency. His passport will be stamped this week," Smart told AFP.

O'Brien, who lives in London, wants to move to the small North Island coastal town of Katikati, where he owns property.

He came to New Zealand as a 10-year-old when his family emigrated from Britain in 1952 and spent 12 years in the country before moving to London.

He has a brother and sister still living in the town of Tauranga, as did their parents until they died about four years ago, while his son Josh is applying for residency after moving to New Zealand on a student visa.

The city of Hamilton, where O'Brien spent his teenage years, has honoured him with a statue of his character from The Rocky Horror Show, the creepy butler Riff Raff.

But according to immigration requirements, to be sponsored by family members for permanent residency in New Zealand O'Brien had to be aged 55 or under and have secured a job offer, criteria which he did not pass.

Mark Servian, who launched the campaign supporting O'Brien, welcomed the decision, describing the actor as "a national treasure".

"(He) should have been welcomed home with a big hug, not put through the immigration hoops," Servian said.

O'Brien has often spoken in interviews about having grown up in New Zealand and the influence it has had on his life and work. Some of the songs from Rocky Horror -- later adapted under the name The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- were inspired by incidents in his youth.

© 2010 AFP

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