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Larry Page Invests in New Zealand in Exchange for Residency


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The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organisation, committee or other group or individual.

By now you’ve likely heard that Larry Page, Google co-founder and one of the world’s richest businessmen, has had his application for New Zealand residency under a category for wealthy investors approved.

The news has reported that Page managed to enter New Zealand in January this year, while borders were closed due to the ongoing pandemic. The government has responded to this by stating that he was allowed in under special conditions due to a medical emergency involving his son. Both of them were in Fiji previous to entering New Zealand for medical attention. 

The news hasn’t really made clear why this incident is related to his application for residence, which he made in November 2020. Essentially, his application was on pause because he was not in the country. The medical emergency that caused him and his son to relocate from Fiji to New Zealand gave NZ immigration the chance to process his application, which was approved the month after in February. They have both since left the country again, and are not currently in New Zealand.

 

Criticisims of the immigration process

Some members of NZ parliment have been vocal about this incident, claiming that his entry to NZ was expedited unfairly. Some of these criticisms are fair, but again, it’s important to make a clear distinciton between the medical emergency in January, and the resdency approval in February.

Health Minister Andrew Little spoke in parliment on the former, stating that Page’s entry “met all the standard conditions of a medical emergency requiring a medical evacuation from the islands.” It’s not actually clear that this process has anything formal to do with immigration at all, as they left afterwards. The only real link is that being in the country allowed his previously lodged application to be processed.

That said, those who have been critical have called into question why the application was processed so fast after the visit. “We have got these GPs or nurses who are stuck in an interminable waiting room to get their residence,” immigration adviser Katy Armstrong told Radio New Zealand.

This is an important point to raise, because it is true that no-one outside the ministry really knows how the process works. It’s possible that Page’s application took such a short time because there are much fewer applications in the investor category he applied for. If a seperate team of people handles processing investor applications, then of course there would be no queue, but we can only speculate. The government has declined to comment on exactly how the process works, citing a need to protect the privacy of investors.

It’s likely the government does have it’s hands tied on the matter, but that doesn’t change the fact that thousands of migrants are waiting years to secure residency, and it’s natural to feel cheated when someone worth over $116 billion dollars is approved within several weeks.

 

What did he invest, and what does it mean for us?

While it’s frustrating that Page seems to have ‘skipped the queue’ and it is important for us to talk about whether or not we are comfortable with that being part of the system, it’s worth keeping in mind that the investor category Page applied for has a NZ$10M price tag.

An investment of 10 million dollars in the country is significant, and most people would agree that having these options in place is beneficial for the country. Again however, the debate is warranted. What impact does it have on our culture to allow investors to use New Zealand as a contingency plan? There’s no real right answer to questions like this, but it pays to have the conversation.

It’s also worth noting that the money isn’t the only investment that Page will make in our country. When world-leading businesspeople decide to put down roots here, they’re also liable to bring work with them, and this has other beneficial knock-on effects, such as creating jobs.

With the renewed concern around climate change sparked by the recent IPCC report, it’s clear that every country on earth will need to adapt in radical ways, and New Zealand is no exception. Our future is garaunteed to include more droughts, more flooding, and a neccessary shift away from intensive dairy farming.

In light of this context, we should consider taking all the help we can get! Rewiring an economy isn’t easy, and no one is going to enjoy it, but given the recent investments made in New Zealand by figures like Larry Page, we may be able to leverage their resources to make radical changes like this. At the very least, it’s a hell of a vote of confidence.

Sam Mannell

Sam Mannell has been a writer for the Pure SEO content team since August '18, and is now Lead Editor. He quickly found his place in the company as resident Dungeon Master and coffee expert. Sam holds a BA from University of Auckland, where he double-majored in Linguistics and English.

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