The Auckland District Health Board chairman has resigned in what he says is a political push by Health Minister Tony Ryall to put his own stamp on the board.

Pat Snedden, a Labour appointee, said yesterday that, following a discussion with Mr Ryal, he would resign.

"The Minister of Health has told me that he has different plans for ADHB and I respect the political process that surrounds that decision," said Mr Snedden, brother of Rugby World Cup chief Martin Snedden.

He would have liked to stay on for three more years, but he could understand where the minister was coming from, he said.

"I've been around long enough to know when a new Government comes in and new ministers have the chance to make appointments ... this is the time to make the call, and fresh leadership is not a bad thing," Mr Snedden said.

"Where they have opportunities to appoint their own people, they take them, and I respect that."

Both the minister and Mr Snedden agreed on wanting to make the health system more efficient, but Mr Snedden said his emphasis on overcoming inequalities and providing healthcare to the Pacific Island population had been a source of differences.

Mr Ryall said Mr Snedden had made a notable contribution to the health system over many years.

"It's not unusual for Governments to refresh leadership of various boards, and this is part of that," he said.

Other board members politically aligned with Mr Snedden said it was unfortunate he had to go.

"He's worked like a demon," said Bob Tizard, a former Labour Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister who failed to win re-election to the board last month.

Mr Snedden had had to front up for ongoing problems with lab testing, Mr Tizard said, but the situation had arisen out of the previous board and in the courts.

"I can't think that any fair-minded person could attribute any blame whatsoever to Pat Snedden, in particular, for the leadership that he gave."

Ian Scott, a life member of the Labour Party who did not seek re-election to the board, said Mr Snedden had been instrumental in making the Auckland DHB the best in the country.

"A lot of that is to do with the dedication Pat brought to that job."

Mr Snedden, who is also chairman of Housing New Zealand, said he would focus on his role as chief Crown negotiator for Treaty settlements.