The man described as Winston Peter's "right hand man" has quit NZ First and is now working for the Internet Mana alliance.
Frank Perry has offered Mr Peters media and policy advice since 1999, finishing up just a few months ago.
He confirmed to the Herald yesterday he was now doing work for Internet-Mana after an approach from old friend Pam Corkery.
Mr Perry, 73, said he had finished with NZ First for "health reasons". "It was time I hung up my boots."
He said Internet Party leader Laila Harre's press secretary Ms Corkery had lured him back into politics with a chicken sandwich and a friendship of at least 20 years. He said he was now "Pam's little helper" working in policy.
Mr Perry had worked as chief reporter for Radio NZ, leaving journalism over health issues before going to NZ First in 1999, shortly after the National-NZ First disintegrated. He was a key go-to figure for many in the party in the 15 years which followed.
Despite the long association, he said he "didn't know where the bodies are buried, if there are bodies".
He described Mr Peters as the last of an era of larger-than-life politicians who would do well this election and beyond "even if they had to wheel him into the (Parliamentary) chamber".
Mr Peters said Mr Perry did a "thoroughly professional media job" and would do likewise for his new employers. He ruled out any ill-feeling, saying: "Frank and I will probably be friends for the rest of our lives."
The switch in work places flabbergasted former NZ First MP Brendan Horan, who said it was "bizarre".
"Really? You're kidding me. That is absolutely amazing. He's been with Winston for years and years and years."
Mr Horan said there was no one closer to the NZ First leader than Mr Perry. "Frank was the inner sanctum - he was probably the only inner sanctum."
Yesterday, the Parliamentary intranet still had Mr Perry listed as working for NZ First.