Alphabet CEO, Larry Page.
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | GettyImages
Larry Page, the co-founder of billionaire Google, has been granted a residency permit in New Zealand and has spent time in the country during the coronavirus pandemic, the New Zealand government confirmed to The Washington City Times on Friday.
Page, 48, applied for residency in New Zealand in November 2020 through the country’s “Investor Plus” residency visa, but the application could not be processed because he was offshore at the time.
The visa, which requires applicants to have NZD 10 million ($7 million) to invest in New Zealand over three years, was then processed after landing in Auckland on January 12, a day after the Page family received an urgent request. filed a request to evacuate the son from Fiji due to a medical emergency.
“When Mr Page entered New Zealand, his application was able to be processed and was approved on February 4, 2021,” Immigration New Zealand said in a statement.
New Zealand Health Minister Andrew Little told parliament on Thursday that the country receives about 100 medevac requests a year. “I have heard that all normal steps have been taken in this case,” he said in response to a question about how Page had entered New Zealand when the borders were closed to non-residents. During the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand has kept the infection rate low by refusing entry to foreign travelers.
“Immigration New Zealand can confirm that Larry Page met the relevant requirements to be admitted to New Zealand,” a spokesperson told The Washington City Times.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told parliament she had not been informed of Page’s visit. “With everything [medevac] cases, those are decisions for clinicians, and I absolutely rely on our clinicians to make decisions,” Ardern said.
New Zealand, relatively isolated from the largest population centers in the world, has become a popular destination with high net worth individuals in recent years.
The sparsely populated country, home to about 5 million people, is hailed as one of the best places in the world to emerge from social collapse, as it is relatively independent in terms of food and energy. It also has a temperate climate and a stable political system.
News of Page’s visit and stay has sparked a lengthy debate about whether the super-rich can essentially buy access to South Pacific County whenever and wherever they want. Billionaire Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and benefiting from an early bet on Facebook, was granted Kiwi citizenship in 2017, even though he had only spent 12 days in New Zealand.
Thiel has invested in local start-up Xero and has bought property across the country, as well as a 193-acre estate in Wanaka on New Zealand’s rugged South Island. While he hasn’t built anything on the site yet, he has been in touch with at least three architects.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told the New Yorker in 2016 that he and Thiel plan to board a private jet and fly to one of Thiel’s properties in New Zealand in the event of some sort of systemic collapse.