After a string of high-profile departures over the past couple of years, the tide has finally turned for the Northern Mystics, with Silver Fern shooter Maria Tutaia opting to return to the region where she shot to prominence as a teenager.

The advent of the transtasman league and a new era of semi-professional netball coincided with Tutaia's move south to the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic. But after two seasons in Hamilton the former Auckland Diamonds shooter was keen to return home, signing with the Mystics for next year's ANZ Championship.

Tutaia becomes the first player to leave the much-maligned Magic franchise following their disappointing season. But while many have predicted a flood of off-season departures, it is likely to be a trickle, with Tutaia expected to be the only big name to leave the squad.

Tutaia insists her reasons had nothing to do with the Magic's poor season. The 22-year-old said she was happy with the Waikato side but wanted to return to Auckland to be closer to family.

"For me personally it was just about coming home, home is where the heart is," she said.

"I found this year especially I didn't get a lot of family time and I missed home a lot. So it's great I've got this opportunity to come back to Auckland."

Tutaia said telling her Magic teammates, most of whom she plays with in the Silver Ferns, that she was leaving was "one of the hardest things I've ever had to do" but she was confident she had made the right decision.

"They are all so supportive in every way, they all gave me their blessing, so did Noeline [Taurua] and the CEO Martin Ellis as well. They know that I'm very much a family girl and family comes first for me."

In moving to Auckland, Tutaia will return to the tutelage of the woman who discovered her.

Mystics coach Te Aroha Keenan, a former vice-principal at Mt Albert Grammar School which Tutaia attended, guided the youngster through her early development. Keenan also happened to be coach of the New Zealand Under-21 side at the time and Tutaia was soon promoted into the national programme.

"I picked her up in the Under-21s as a very green, 6ft 2in, 15-year-old and it's great to see where she's got to," said Keenan.

Keenan believes the move to the Mystics will benefit Tutaia not only personally, but professionally as well.

Leaving the Magic means Tutaia will be stepping away from the safety net provided by sharpshooter Irene van Dyk. Tutaia will likely be the Mystics' key figure in attack and will need to shoulder more of the shooting responsibilities.

"I think it's going to be a win-win situation for her," said Keenan.

The Mystics are also looking to make a marquee signing down the other end of the court, with English international Sonia Mkoloma high on their shopping list.

It is believed the Central Pulse, who last week announced Silver Fern defender Katrina Grant will join their squad, are also competing for Mkoloma's signature. The 30-year-old defender had a winless season with the Pulse last year before linking up with the Canterbury Tactix this year. However, it is said the Londoner has not enjoyed her time in conservative Christchurch.

The Pulse are also looking to add experience to their shooting end, targeting Tactix shooter and former Fern Jodi Brown.