Kaitaia legend Dr Lance O'Sullivan is moving his business down to Auckland saying it was hard to build it up in the regions.
In an article for the Herald, O'Sullivan revealed he plans to move his health services business Navilusso Medical to Auckland after five years in Kaitaia.
"The reason for moving to Auckland is that it is far more difficult than I thought to grow such a business in the regions. It is hard to attract the right people. It is hard to be taken seriously by the big partners I want to work with."
He said he made the decision to move only recently.
"It has been over five months since the formation of this Government and I have not heard from or had any meaningful approaches from any agency to help us stay in Kaitaia."
The business has developed digital programmes such as iMoko which allows doctors to remotely diagnose and prescribe medicines for minor ailments such as skin problems in children who live in remote areas.
O'Sullivan said those services would keep running in Kaitaia. "My commitment to the provision of health services to those communities doesn't waiver."
O'Sullivan plans to enter politics in 2020 but is yet to decide how he will attempt to do that – he is in talks with The Opportunities Party for its new leader and has also met with other parties. O'Sullivan did not intend to make a decision before Christmas and is focusing on his business.
Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, who is also from the Far North, said it was disappointing but did not mean Kaitaia could not sustain good businesses.
"I'm sure lots of people have relied on Dr Lance and I wish him well. But the disappearance of Dr Lance must not be catastrophised. There is no shortage of other businesspeople in Kaitaia, many of whom I have met. His is a distinctive case in terms of wanting to develop a new medical product and new medical services."
O'Sullivan was a provider in the medical field which was competitive.
"I should imagine your competitive advantage is the quality of your people. So it's not telling me anything I don't already hear. Lots of people are unwilling to move to the provinces because they don't think there's the quality of service or the infrastructure is up to what they require for their children."
The article by O'Sullivan was prompted by Jones' attacks on Air NZ for cutting regional services around New Zealand.
O'Sullivan said he was one of those who had criticised Air NZ when it stopped flying to Kaitaia two years ago, but Barrier Air had filled the gap and the community and central Government should support "the little guys" who had stepped in, rather than cry for Air NZ to return.
He said he was worried at the time that Air NZ's withdrawal would impact on his business, as well as tourism and the willingness of young people to live and work in the region. While it was important air links were maintained, the decision to move was not because of Air NZ's actions.