Lance O'Sullivan moving his business from Kaitaia to Auckland will be a big loss for the town, but he's done great things for the district and will be missed, business and community leaders say.
Dr O'Sullivan announced this week that he is moving his business, Navilluso Medical, to Auckland.
''The reason for moving to Auckland is that it is far more difficult than I thought to grow such a business in the regions,'' he said.
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''It is hard to attract the right people. It is hard to be taken seriously by the big partners I want to work with.
"The innovation we are hoping to spread requires a lot of face to face contact given the importance of gaining people's trust on new approaches to health service delivery.''
Jo Kiro, chairwoman of the Kaitaia Business Association, said it would be a big loss for the Far North, but Dr O'Sullivan had to make the business decisions he felt were right.
''We wish him well and we absolutely respect the work he has done and he has been doing amazing things. He spent five years working on it. But his is a business that's very specific to what he is doing and it would probably be better for him to be based in Auckland, where there are far bigger networks within that field."
Ms Kiro had recently opened a business in Kaitaia - Kiro Management - which operated in the town and in Auckland. She felt there were plenty of business opportunities in Kaitaia and surrounds.
''Lance moving is a specific business issue for him, rather than a broader issue of doing business generally in Kaitaia. I'm quite excited about having a business here in Kaitaia,'' she said.
From a business association point of view part of our annual plan will be looking at how we can attract more businesses to town.''
She felt that Kaitaia was in Dr O'Sullivan's heart and he would be back one day.
''I'm sure he won't forget us.''
Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi said it had been a privilege to have somebody of Dr O'Sullivan's standing working for the people of the Far North and it was sad to see him leave.
''I think this is an inevitable development in terms of where Lance is going to as a leader in his own right. In order to be a leader in his field and continue to achieve the great feats he has, he needs to move where the population is greatest to do that,'' Mr Piripi said.
''It's a positive move for him and reflects the next phase in his development, and we support that.
''The only thing that I think is a bit unfortunate for us is he takes with him a whole lot of provenance from the people. It's provenance of the most innovative kind and I hope that won't be lost to us. But with technology Lance will only be a push of a button away.''
He said Dr O'Sullivan had left a legacy of innovation and using the latest technology to get best practice and the best health and education outcomes for people.
''It's been a fantastic experience to have somebody like him contribute to our health and education outcomes in such a positive way,'' Mr Piripi said.
"He's been a great role model and our people love him and they love his messages. This is a big loss for us, but he will go on to make far greater contributions to our society.''
Felicity Foy, Far North District councillor for the Te Hiku ward that covers Kaitaia, said it's sad for the town that Dr O'Sullivan has to leave to grow his business.
''I hope he keeps his house up here and that he and his family return. We really should be thankful and proud that he is a member of our community.
''He has had a really positive effect on our community, with him being New Zealander of the year and also standing up for our people and showing our high levels of deprivation and going to central government with that.
''And with using new technology in the health sector to better utilise resources, which provides more opportunities for a place like the Far North.''
Ms Foy said there were more than enough business opportunities in the district and it was up to the Far North District Council to help facilitate them.
She said the elderly care sector, health and tourism were areas that could be looked at, while taking advantage of the district's ''amazing natural beauty''.
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,'' Mr Jones said.
''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."
■ Navilluso Medical is partnering with the Ministry of Health and ACC to explore, design and deliver new models of care using smarter systems and the latest technology to effect better health outcomes for New Zealanders.