New Zealand's biggest retirement village business, Ryman Healthcare, is repaying the $14.2 million wage subsidy in line with other business in the sector.
Today, the Herald asked chief executive Gordon MacLeod and chairman David Kerr if their company would follow Summerset Group, Arvida and Metlifecare.
Within a few hours, Kerr revealed Ryman's decision.
Metlifecare, Summerset Group and Arvida have all announced repayments, sparking questions in the sector about why Ryman and Oceania had not yet moved.
Four listed retirement business have now said they are repaying the money. Sales in the sector rebounded following the lockdowns this year.
Only Oceania Healthcare is keeping its wage subsidy - $1.8m.
Kerr explained why Ryman made the call.
"We'd like to thank the Government for its initiative in introducing the subsidy, which provided help at a time of great uncertainty for us and for thousands of other businesses," Kerr said.
"Since January we have spent more than $50 million on our COVID-19 response, and I'm pleased to say we have not had a single case of COVID-19 among our more than 18,000 residents and staff. The financial certainty the subsidy gave us was a factor in our success during a difficult period.
"During the level 4 lockdown we were unable to sell, market, refurbish, build or admit new residents, which severely impacted our trading, and so we met the criteria to qualify for the subsidy.
"We have regularly reviewed our position in relation to retaining the wage subsidy. The improved outlook in New Zealand means we are now committed to repaying the subsidy. Once again, we'd like to thank the New Zealand Government for its help," Kerr said.
Summerset said today it would repay the $8.6m subsidy. Metlifecare had already announced that under new owner EQT, it had decided the right thing to do was repay its $6.8m.
Arvida Group also repaid $400,000, leaving only Ryman and Oceania to act.
Earl Gasparich, Oceania chief executive, today said his business would keep the $1.8m state money because it was a small amount and was necessary.
In the company's annual report for the year to May 31 2020, Oceania said it got the wage subsidy in mid-April for a small number of sales and property development staff, he said.
"We did not consider it appropriate to claim for our staff working in aged care, who were essential workers and not at risk of losing employment," Gasparich said.
"A total of $1.8m was received, which was a fraction of the total amount that Oceania was actually eligible to claim given the scale of our workforce. Oceania has incurred significant costs managing the risk of Covid-19 across our business and the wage subsidy, as well as a minor amount of additional Government funding, have only partially compensated us for these costs," Gasparich said.
Others to return the money include Napier Port, Briscoe Group, Bell Gully, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, a group of private schools, Simpson Grierson and Alliance Group which repaid half.