Donald Trump’s historic New Zealand trip

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Back in August 1993, when Donald Trump was known as a businessman rather than the President of the United States, he took a trip to New Zealand in order to further his business reach. He arrived in Auckland with the hope of obtaining a licence for a casino on site of Auckland railway station. Fortunately for New Zealand, this was not to be. Lucky Nugget Casino looks back at the historic trip.

Trump attempts New Zealand expansion

Trump is always keen to put his name on merchandise.

Before Mr Trump would step foot on Kiwi soil, he would be visited by Michael Cox of Casino Control Authority at Trump Towers in order to gain a better perspective on the casino tycoon. Whilst Cox ‘felt nothing bad’ about Donald Trump, his instinct told him this partnership was not to be. “I don’t think we would like Mr Trump being an operator and I don’t think he would particularly like New Zealand. My gut feeling was that he would not fit and he wouldn’t fit with setting up a New Zealand casino industry.”

Donald Trump’s visit to New Zealand was short-lived – he spent only a day there – in his quest to build one of his world-famous casinos in Auckland. Trump was attempting to secure a licence as part of a consortium, of which he would hold a 25 percent share.

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Donald Trump has repeatedly filed for bankruptcy.

After a 20 minute tour around the site where the casino would be, Trump spent two hours in a bid to convince the authority he was the man for the job. But no amount of glitz and glamour could sway the authority, with chairman Jock Irvine saying he would “absolutely not” be swayed by Trump’s PR machine.

As he has done so many times before, the question of whether Trump would build a casino that would bear his own name arose – Donald could not give assurance that he would not name the casino after himself, as it had proved so popular in the United States.

Donald’s sights were set as he believed the New Zealand casino would become a ‘real diamond’ in his infamous casino empire. But Trump’s reputation preceded him as he was in some financial bother. A hefty divorce from his first wife Ivana that was well-publicised, and being $3 billion USD in debt didn’t make Donald the ideal suitor in New Zealand. Jock Irvine said, “there is a commonly held perception that he may have been bankrupt in terms of our legislation.” Trump’s bid would go on to be unsuccessful.

Although Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the United States, he commented on the fact he shouldn’t be in politics whilst on his NZ visit. He’d been asked if he enjoyed being called ‘a high-rolling tycoon associated with glamorous women’ – he didn’t. ‘The Donald’ would rather be considered to be an esteemed businessman – Trump did state that he felt some women were more beautiful than others, so “it’s fortunate I don’t have to run for political office.”

No doubt the Casino Control Authority will have felt they dodged a bullet when it comes to Donald Trump. Between 1991 and 2009, Trump’s hotel and casino businesses went bankrupt no fewer than six times.