Great Britain

Row erupts in New Zealand after Larry Page was allowed to enter for son’s medical treatment despite closed borders

Google billionaire Larry Page was granted entry to New Zealand to seek emergency medical treatment for his son, angering some citizens stranded overseas due to the Government’s closed borders policy.

Mr Page, the eighth richest man in the world according to Forbes, has spent most of the pandemic living with his wife Lucinda Southward and their two sons, aged 12 and about 10, on a remote Fiji island.

When his eldest son fell ill in January, Mr Page and his son were granted an emergency waiver to enter the country, as was first reported by Stuff.

An air ambulance was dispatched from New Zealand to bring Mr Page and his son back, a round trip of 5,000km (3100 miles).

Mr Page, 48, spent two weeks in isolation while the boy was taken directly to Auckland’s Starship Hospital, a specialist public children’s hospital.

The country’s immigration office has since confirmed that Mr Page, who is worth $116 billion, holds New Zealand residency.

New Zealand effectively closed its border to the outside world last March as it successfully eradicated Covid, and enforces a strict two week quarantine to returning citizens in a military-run secure hotel.

It also restricts the number of places available in its quarantine facilities, meaning many New Zealanders stranded overseas are barred from returning to visit sick or dying relatives.

The country’s immigration department has not said whether Mr Page spent time in a Government-run isolation facility.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she was not briefed on Mr Page’s visit at the time.

“I’m not advised of every single individual... because politicians do not make that decision, and nor should they.

“As with all cases, those are decisions for clinicians, and I absolutely trust our clinicians to make decisions between those in the host country and receiving country around what is best for a patient.”

Ms Ardern said around 100 medevacs were transported to New Zealand each year.

Facing questions in New Zealand’s Parliament on Thursday (NZ time), Health Minister Andrew Little said the the Ministry of Health  received a request for a child to be medevacked from Fiji on January 11, accompanied by an adult.

Mr Little said anyone granted emergency medical entry must require immediate care that is not available where they are.

“I’m advised all of the normal steps occurred in this case,” he told Parliament.

Immigration New Zealand general manager of border and visa operations, Nicola Hogg, told the AFP that Page “met relevant requirements” to be granted entry.

The leader of New Zealand’s right-wing ACT Party David Seymour called on Ms Ardern’s government to release more details 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,’ Seymour said.

Seymour said he sympathised with Page, but there were many New Zealand residents facing similar issues who were not allowed into the country.

“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.”

It’s unclear how Mr Page gained residency.

New Zealand operates a points-based residency system which gives weight to applicants who have spent two years in the country on a “Work to Residence” visa.

In 2017, Facebook investor and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel was granted New Zealand citizenship after spending just 12 days in the country.

Page founded Google with Sergey Brin in the 1990s, turning it into the fourth largest technology company in the world.

Page has rarely been seen out in public since stepping down as CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. in 2019.

Football news:

Mourinho is the first Roma coach to lose his debut derby, after Luis Enrique in 2011
Kane has 0 goals in the first 5 matches of the Premier League season. This is his worst start since 2015
Barca coach Schroider: We lacked the qualities of Fati. We will have a very powerful squad when everyone returns
Barcelona Interrupted a series of 3 matches without a win
Saka has 20 assists for Arsenal since the start of last season. This is the best result in the club
Alex Ferguson: Ronaldo dreamed of Real Madrid. This is the only club where world-class players appear from year to year
The 60-year-old vice-president of Suriname played for his club in the CONCACAF League and distributed money to rival players. He was suspended from football for 3 years