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Billionaire Google co-founder a NZ resident, admits government, amid anger at special waiver for son


Google co-founder Larry Page has gained New Zealand residency, the government confirmed – becoming just the latest tech billionaire to tie himself to the island nation.

Page, 48, the eighth richest man in the world, raised eyebrows in New Zealand when he flew into the country with his son to seek emergency medical treatment for the child, despite the country’s borders being closed due to the pandemic.

Jacinta Ardern, the prime minister, was drawn into the row that ensued and insisted that she was unaware of Page’s visit – and pointed out that they would rarely refuse a medically-essential emergency landing.

On Thursday, the government of New Zealand confirmed that Page had been granted residency. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment told Stuff about Page’s status.

Larry Page has taken New Zealand residency, it was confirmed on Thursday. Page, with a $116 billion fortune, was accepted on an Investor Plus residency visa, which allows anyone into the country provided they have at least $10 million to invest

Page, 48, with his media-shy wife Lucinda Southworth, 42. The couple have two children together, a boy born in 2009 and another child born in 2011. Southworth is a research scientist and is the sister of actress Carrie Southworth

Page, 48, with his media-shy wife Lucinda Southworth, 42. The couple have two children together, a boy born in 2009 and another child born in 2011. Southworth is a research scientist and is the sister of actress Carrie Southworth

Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern faced a backlash for allowing Page and the boy to enter while there are strict border controls

Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern faced a backlash for allowing Page and the boy to enter while there are strict border controls

New Zealand has in recent years earned a reputation for attracting tech billionaires keen to purchase a bolt hole in case of an impending apocalypse. The climate, remote location, natural beauty and political stability have lured some of the world’s wealthiest – among them PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and multimillionaire film director James Cameron.

‘Saying you’re buying a house in New Zealand is kind of a wink, wink, say no more,’ Hoffman told The New Yorker in 2017.

Page has been riding out the pandemic in Fiji with his wife Lucinda Southworth, 42, and their two sons, aged 12 and 10. 

Page applied for a special visa on November 3, 2020 and first flew into the country on January 11, 2021 after his child became ill in Fiji, according to Stuff.

His residency was approved on February 4, 2021 – after Page entered the country.

He has since left, Stuff reported.  

Page’s residency visa is known as the Investor Plus, which allows anyone into the country provided they have at least $10 million to invest. 

The country’s immigration chief Kris Faafoi told reporters that Page had requested an exemption ‘to make sure his son got the treatment that was required.’ 

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and chairman of Palantir Technologies, is among those to have purchased 'doomsday' homes in New Zealand

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and chairman of Palantir Technologies, is among those to have purchased ‘doomsday’ homes in New Zealand

The distance from the island of Tavarua, Fiji, where Page has been staying to Auckland, New Zealand, is around 1,300 miles

Page has spent months in Fiji during the pandemic - mostly on the island of Tavarua - and it has been rumoured the billionaire has bought at least one island in the country's Mamanuca archipelago

Page has spent months in Fiji during the pandemic – mostly on the island of Tavarua – and it has been rumoured the billionaire has bought at least one island in the country’s Mamanuca archipelago

New Zealand, a country of just five million people, has seen 2,880 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 26 deaths – one of the lowest rates of infection and death in the world. 

The country is a haven of normality despite the pandemic ravaging the rest of the world, and locals are unimpressed by the idea of rich people buying their way in. 

Health minister Andrew Little was interrogated about the visit in parliament, saying that an application was approved in January for a child, accompanied by an adult, to be medically evacuated from Fiji.

He said anyone accepted for treatment is considered to require immediate care and could not be treated locally.

‘I’m advised all of the normal steps occurred in this case,’ Little said.

Ardern said she was not briefed at the time Page was in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand general manager of border and visa operations, Nicola Hogg, told AFP that Page ‘met relevant requirements’ to be approved entry.

‘Mr Page is not a permanent resident. Citizenship is a matter for the Department of Internal Affairs. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to comment further without a privacy waiver.’

Hogg did not address the question of whether Page spent two weeks in quarantine, as required of people entering New Zealand.

New Zealand’s opposition ACT Party called on Ardern’s government to be more open about his visit.

‘The Government has questions to answer about why billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page was allowed into New Zealand when desperate Kiwis and separated families can’t get through the border,’ ACT leader David Seymour said.

Seymour said while he had sympathy for Page’s situation, there were numerous people with similar issues who could not get in.

‘I have had to tell them, ‘sorry, but there is no way you can get through the border, government policy will not allow it’,’ he added.

‘New Zealanders stranded overseas who are desperate to get home deserve answers.’

Page founded Google with Sergey Brin in the 1990s and is listed by Bloomberg as the eighth-richest person in the world with a reported wealth of $116 billion. 

Page has reportedly become become reclusive over the past several years – avoiding being photographed, except for a handful of times, since stepping down as CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. in 2019.  

He has spent months in Fiji during the coronavirus pandemic – mostly on the island of Tavarua – and  it has been rumored the billionaire has bought at least one island in the country’s Mamanuca archipelago, sources told Insider

Page, pictured with his wife, requested special permission to enter New Zealand so that his son, who is around 12-years-old, could receive medical treatment

Page, pictured with his wife, requested special permission to enter New Zealand so that his son, who is around 12-years-old, could receive medical treatment

An aerial view of Tavarua, where Page is said to have spent most of the pandemic. The heart-shaped island is in Fiji's Mamanuca archipelago

An aerial view of Tavarua, where Page is said to have spent most of the pandemic. The heart-shaped island is in Fiji’s Mamanuca archipelago 

Another view of Tavarua Island, which is where Page is said to have spent most of the pandemic

Another view of Tavarua Island, which is where Page is said to have spent most of the pandemic

Page has also been spotted an a smaller island called Namotu – which a sailor claimed Page had bought in a blog post in August. 

He had taken his private jet to donate COVID-19 medical supplies to Fiji in June as a second wave of the pandemic hit the country – which was reported by Fijian Broadcasting Company News on June 19, according to Insider.

However, that story has since disappeared from the state-owned news site – and sources told Insider that health officials in Fiji asked for it to come down, claiming that the information should not have been made public.

A source confirmed to DailyMail.com that the article had been removed after health officials asked for the story to be taken down because ‘they didn’t want the donation highlighted.’

The article appears to have also since been scrubbed from Google. 

According to Insider, the story had reported that Page flew from Hawaii to Fiji’s Nadi International Airport to provide the country with medical supplies including masks, gowns and gloves.  

A photo of Page’s jet was posted to Twitter on June 19 by a Fijian journalist, who captioned the post: ‘One of the Co-Founders of Google Larry Page donated cartons of COVID-19 supplies to Fiji as the country battles its second wave of the virus.’

The plane’s call sign 813QS, pictured on one of its engines, is licensed to Blue City Holdings, according to the Federal Communications Commission .

One of the Mamanuca islands juts out of the ocean in this file photo. It has been rumored Page has bought at least one island in the country's Mamanuca archipelago, Insider reported

One of the Mamanuca islands juts out of the ocean in this file photo. It has been rumored Page has bought at least one island in the country’s Mamanuca archipelago, Insider reported

From a file photo in 2008 is a picture of Larry Page's old yacht, named Senses. Business Insider reports that he's downsized to at least one smaller yacht that is now moored in Fiji

From a file photo in 2008 is a picture of Larry Page’s old yacht, named Senses. Business Insider reports that he’s downsized to at least one smaller yacht that is now moored in Fiji

Blue City Holdings manages a fleet for Page and his co-founder Sergey Brin, as well as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Insider reported. 

Sources said that Page and his wife Southworth have been seen surfing on traditional and electronic surfboards near the country’s islands, and that ‘he’s good at it, too.’

Southworth is a research scientist and is the sister of actress Carrie Southworth.

The couple are very private and have not revealed the names of their two children who were born in 2009 and 2011. 

Google’s co-founders Page and Brin, who still hold incredible control over the company despite having both stepped away, have largely avoided scrutiny while stepping out of the limelight. 



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