5 Aug 2021

Google billionaire met requirements to enter NZ - Immigration

10:16 pm on 5 August 2021

Immigration New Zealand says American billionaire Larry Page had met the relevant requirements to enter the country amid the Covid-19 border restrictions.

Google co-founder Larry Page.

Google co-founder Larry Page. Photo: AFP / Getty

RNZ understands the Google co-founder had travelled to New Zealand after his child became ill and required medical treatment in an Auckland hospital.

Immigration NZ said Page is a New Zealand resident.

It said Page does not have permanent residence and his visa will allow him to travel in and out of New Zealand only for a defined period of time.

In Parliament today, Health Minister Andrew Little said the request - received by the Ministry of Health on 11 January - met all the requirements for a medevac flight and entry to New Zealand at the time.

"The day after the application was received, a New Zealand air ambulance - staffed by a New Zealand ICU nurse escort - medevaced the child and adult family member from Fiji to New Zealand," Little said.

"On arrival, the child and adult were taken immediately to an isolation environment in the hospital."

The family has been spending the Covid-19 pandemic in Fiji, which is faced with an escalating outbreak.

The New Zealand High Commission in Fiji said the decision to fly the child to Auckland was made after months of consultation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media she had not been made aware of Page's travel to New Zealand.

"Nor would I be. We have roughly ... 100 medevacs into New Zealand [a year]. The decision for a patient to be part of a medevac is made by clinicians so, no, I'm not advised of every single individual."

She said politicians did not make such decisions, nor should they, and she was not in a position to discuss the immigration status of anyone who happened to be medically transported to New Zealand.

"It happens for all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons ... I don't think it's necessarily important for me to know the private medical details.

"I think everyone in New Zealand would want to know, if they were in those circumstances, doctors were making those decisions not politicians."

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said he was informed about the border application by Immigration NZ under the 'no surprises' policy.

Nicola Hogg, general manager of Border and Visa Operations, said Page was not a permanent resident of NZ.

She cited privacy reasons for the department not commenting further.

Ninety-nine people have been allowed in New Zealand from the Pacific for medical treatment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They include a UN staff member, who was medevaced from Fiji last week.

The Ministry of Health said those patients have not had to go through managed isolation before their treatment.

Once they are discharged, they must either leave the country, or complete what's left of the 14-day isolation period.

The ministry said the clinical assessment beforehand includes a check that the treatment required is not available locally.

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