The New Zealand government confirmed to CNBC on Friday that Google’s billionaire co-founder Larry Page had obtained residency in New Zealand and spent some time in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
Page, 48 years old, applied for the right of abode in New Zealand through the national “Investor Plus” residence visa in November 2020, but because he was abroad at the time, the application could not be processed.
The visa requires applicants to have 10 million New Zealand dollars (7 million U.S. dollars) to invest in New Zealand within three years. After arriving in Auckland on January 12, the application was processed the day after the Paige family submitted their application. Due to a medical emergency, the son was urgently requested to be evacuated from Fiji.
“Once Mr. Page enters New Zealand, his application can be processed and approved on February 4, 2021,” Immigration New Zealand said in a statement.
New Zealand Health Minister Andrew Little told Parliament on Thursday that New Zealand receives approximately 100 medical evacuation requests each year. “I was told that in this case, all the normal steps took place,” he said in response to a question about how Page managed to enter New Zealand when the border was closed to non-residents. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand has kept the infection rate low by denying entry to foreign travelers.
“Immigration New Zealand can confirm that Larry Page has met the relevant requirements for approval to enter New Zealand,” a spokesperson told.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Parliament that she had not been informed of Page’s visit. “For all [medical evacuation] cases, these are decisions of the doctors, and I absolutely believe that our doctors will make a decision,” Ardern said.
New Zealand is relatively isolated from the world’s largest population center and has become a popular destination for wealthy people in recent years.
This sparsely populated country has a population of approximately 5 million and is known as one of the best places in the world to survive social collapse due to its relative independence in food and energy. It also has a temperate climate and a stable political system.
The news of Page’s visit and residency reignited a long debate over whether the super-rich can buy the right to use South Pacific County whenever they want. Billionaire Peter Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal and has benefited from early bets on Facebook. Although he only stayed in New Zealand for 12 days, he obtained New Zealand citizenship in 2017.
Thiel invested in the local Xero company and purchased properties across the country, as well as 193 hectares of properties in Wanaka, New Zealand’s rugged South Island. Although he has not built anything on site, he has already contacted at least three architects.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told The New Yorker in 2016 that he and Thiel plan to fly to a Thiel property in New Zealand by private jet if some kind of systemic collapse occurs.