Duco founder David Higgins has launched a scathing attack on the New Zealand government for its failure to provide a viable home isolation system, and the double standards that allowed foreign musicians to enter the country ahead of citizens stuck abroad.
Higgins runs this month's Twenty20 Black Clash match and Synthony, the electronic dance music event played live by a full orchestra, but as Joseph Parker's long-time manager it was the heavyweight fight with Derek Chisora in Manchester that took Higgins abroad last November.
At the time, Higgins planned to return to New Zealand via Australia and self-isolate at home, only for the goalposts to shift while he was away with the arrival of the Covid-19 Omicron variant which has left him locked out and fuming with the rigid MIQ system. Higgins has since been unable to return home to his six-month-old daughter and wife, sparking mental-health challenges and frustration shared by thousands of Kiwis abroad.
"The government settings put me in an awkward position between abandoning my family or keeping my business afloat," Higgins said of his plight. "I'm 42 years old. I've suffered from anxiety and all sorts of issues. I've got a lovely wife and daughter and feel like I'm finally pulling things together and then my own country exiles me because I had to go overseas to do my job."
Following the likes of richlister Murray Bolton, Higgins hired Jacque Lethbridge from Martelli McKegg law firm to press the government into allowing him to isolate at home, where he has a unit at the back of his property. In December, however, his request was rejected. Further correspondence requesting an explanation has been ignored.
"There are probably 100,000 people or families disenfranchised by this who are silent. I've been very reluctant to speak publicly because there's people with family members who are terminally ill – there's always going to be someone worse off than you."
Higgins' major grievance is the lack of flexibility for fully vaccinated New Zealanders who present a negative Covid-19 test to isolate at home. He cites the likes of Parker and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya as examples of Kiwis who earn their living abroad.
New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox and Olympic triathlete bronze medallist Hayden Wilde also endured similar challenges last year.
"The failure is they should have set up a rigorous home MIQ system for people who have to travel for work. I would have funded my own MIQ.
"Michael Joseph Savage will be turning in his grave. It's a dereliction of duty to abandon your own citizens. The millions of New Zealanders who live outside the country are still New Zealanders. You can't pretend they're not just so your stats look better.
"I'm outraged. To lock out your own citizens under duress is unacceptable and given the hundreds of billions spent, there should have been a better response."
Higgins is now staying in New York with a cousin and attending business meetings for future events but will soon relocate to Melbourne to reunite with his family.
"The government has done some things right but the failure to have a functioning home MIQ and to acknowledge the reality that some people have to travel has harmed and traumatised a few hundred thousand New Zealanders."