22 Oct 2015

Labour's Jacinda Ardern to focus on Auckland

8:51 am on 22 October 2015

Auckland-based Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says it was her choice not to seek the party's deputy leadership.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says she will be focusing on trying to win Auckland Central in 2017. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Labour leader Andrew Little has confirmed Annette King will continue as deputy leader until the 2017 general election, after much speculation over who would take over.

Labour Deputy Leader, Annette King.

Labour deputy leader Annette King Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Ms Ardern had been tipped as a likely contender, but said things were going really well for Labour and she didn't feel the need for a change.

"It was [my] decision certainly not to put my self forward and, as I say, things are tracking really well for the team so in my mind there was no contest, no vacancy as it were."

Ms Ardern acknowledged there was plenty of discussion in the media as to what was going to happen.

But she said her ambition was to be the best Labour MP that she could be.

"Ultimately it was up to Andrew to make a call and I feel like I'm doing some really interesting and big jobs where I am and I'm happy to keep doing that."

Ms Ardern said the central Auckland seat was one of the most marginal seats in the country and not being deputy leader would give her the time to focus on trying to win it at the next election.

Mrs King had previously served as deputy leader between November 2008 and December 2011, before she was succeeded by Grant Robertson.

She has been in her current role since last November when Mr Little took over as leader.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand's Morning Report, Mr Little said that he and Mrs King worked well as a team and he wanted that to continue over the next two years.

He praised Ms Ardern's performance and skills and said she did not pursue the deputy leader job.

"I didn't offer the role to her, she didn't ask for it."

He said that she was Labour's chief ambassador in Auckland and that it was important that she remained visible and in the public eye.

"She's absolutely leadership material - she's doing an amazing job in Auckland... lifting her visibility and the visibility of the party."

"Jacinda just needs to keep doing what she's doing - she's a fantastic caucus member," he said.