WELLINGTON (AFP) – Google co-founder Larry Page was allowed into New Zealand despite its closed border so his son could receive urgent medical attention, the government confirmed yesterday.
The billionaire’s visit had prompted criticism from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s political opponents, who demanded an explanation for why he was permitted to enter despite coronavirus travel restrictions.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi told reporters Page had applied for a medical exemption “to make sure his son got the treatment that was required”.
Health Minister Andrew Little, when questioned in Parliament about Page, said an application was approved in January for a child, accompanied by an adult, to be medevaced 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.”