COMMENT:

The mega-rich who have invested in luxury property here to ride out the Apocalypse face a choice — do they up sticks in the wake of the terror attack or come out from their boltholes and use their international pull to assist New Zealand?

Right now the "Pure New Zealand" brand is under siege.

An international confidence-raising campaign is needed to ensure New Zealand maintains its allure.

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Activist Bob Geldof talked to chief executives in Auckland this week on how technology (ubiquitous smartphones) had opened the eyes of the international under-privileged, including in Africa, to what they had missed out on.

Some 60 million were on the move and wanted what the elites had.

There has been a reckoning.

Three years ago, as Prime Minister, Sir John Key was positioning New Zealand as an Asia-Pacific "Switzerland" — a beautiful and wealthy bolthole for high net-worthers seeking to escape from an unstable world.

In his view, stability, democracy and distance from terrorism made New Zealand an attractive destination for wealthy foreigners.

Key was responding to life as he then knew it with the perceived terrorism "threat" coming from Isis. And elsewhere. Not here.

It took one lone Australian murderer, intent on killing Muslims at prayer, to destroy the delusion that New Zealand's remoteness provided sanctuary from global threats.

But back then, rich expats — including tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who was awarded citizenship after just 12 days' residence here on the back of skilful string-pulling by Xero founder Rod Drury and Trade Me founder Sam Morgan — were among a spate of the super wealthy who had brought luxury doomsday hideaways in New Zealand.

There were articles aplenty in the New York Times and the UK's Daily Telegraph saying why New Zealand was the bolthole du jour for the super rich.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman told The New Yorker: "Saying you're buying a house in New Zealand is kind of a wink, wink, say no more."

Vice.com's Charlotte Graham-McLay wrote last April in a A brief guide to riding out the Apocalypse in New Zealand: "Scrolling through the headlines, you've got to have sympathy for the perennial northern hemisphere social media rage-post: 'F**k this, I'm moving to New Zealand'."

In fact, applications from Americans, who wanted to do just that, jumped 70 per cent in the 12 weeks following Donald Trump's election.

The fear of terror in Europe was also a driver for Europeans to up sticks and leave.

Chinese investors were open that they were seeking to de-risk their own exposure to the Chinese market, get capital out, and buy residential property in a pollution-free environment.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma told Key in China in 2016 he planned to buy a home in NZ and said at least 20 of his colleagues in their 40s had already retired here.

The wealth effect was palpable.

Websites sprang up spruiking the billionaire's paradise: An "Antipodean sanctuary in an ever-changing world" according to newzealandbolthole.co.nz.

New Zealanders took the wealth dividend as they sold desirable properties and stations to the newcomers.

There was a general consensus in business circles that positioning New Zealand as a desirable and secure haven in this part of the world made a great deal of sense.

In the Herald's 2016 Mood of the Boardroom survey some 79 per cent of CEOs found the Key vision of a "wealthy, desirable and secure haven in a restive world that other people want to live and invest in" to be attractive.

But spruiking New Zealand as a haven was not shared by the incoming coalition Government which quickly made it clear that its interests were not with the "one per cent". It was not swayed by the arguments of international rich-listers that banning house sales to foreigners could hurt the country's reputation. The Government believed — somewhat fallaciously — that the luxury boltholers had crowded out local buyers, pushing up property prices.

After all, there were not many New Zealanders who could afford $33 million mountain lodges perched on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, complete with reinforced concrete and steel structures.

A luxury economy boom was stopped in its tracks. But these investors have connections.

Many contributed to an international fundraising campaign after the Christchurch earthquakes.

Demonstrating that see New Zealand as more than a bolthole would be a fillip to confidence right now.

It is the right and moral thing to do.