13 Dec 2016

Sam Lotu-Iiga to leave Parliament

9:30 pm on 13 December 2016

Local Government Minister and MP for Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-Iiga is to quit Parliament at next year's election.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga

National MP Sam Lotu-liga is bowing out of politics. Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

Mr Lotu-Iiga had a challenging time during his tenure as Corrections Minister, dealing with controversy over private prison operator Serco, and could have been in line for demotion in the upcoming reshuffle, following Bill English becoming Prime Minister yesterday.

He said he made his decision not to stand again earlier this month.

"The time is now right for me to announce my decision publicly and I advised Bill English of my decision late last week," he said in a statement.

"I had always intended to inform the Prime Minister, my caucus colleagues and my electorate team of my decision this week, even before John Key announced his decision to resign last Monday."

Mr Lotu-Iiga said he would step down as a minister when Mr English swore in his new Cabinet.

But he said he would remain the MP for Maungakiekie until the next election, to avoid the cost of a by-election.

Mr Lotu-Iiga was first elected in 2008.

"I am in my 10th year of politics, both local and national, and have enjoyed it immensely.

"However, I have decided, for a variety of reasons that I should step down from politics at the next election. I will be exploring new opportunities and I am also looking forward to spending more time with my wife and my young children."

Mr English is deciding on his new Cabinet line-up, where Mr Lotu-Iiga could have faced possible demotion.

He was asked if he was leaving as he had seen the 'writing on the wall'.

"Well, that's not my understanding, I had made this decision. I'd been thinking about it for a number of months, I'd consulted with my family, in fact I was asked outside of the caucus room two months and said I was still considering it."

He acknowledged dealing with the Serco controversy as Corrections Minister was challenging.

"But, at the same time we came to conclusions about Serco at Mt Eden that were good for the system and good for New Zealand."

He declined to talk about whether he had been ill-served by Department of Corrections officials, or received a hospital pass from his predecessor Anne Tolley, who signed off Serco running Mr Eden in the first place.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said it was always possible to think about what "could have, should have and might have" been, in hindsight, but he would be leaving Parliament with no regrets.

He said he had always tried to act according to a Samoan way of "servant leadership".

"In order to lead, you must serve."

Mr English said he would announce his new Cabinet on Sunday and ministers would be sworn in on Tuesday.

He said he would make the announcement during the day, after informing MPs that morning by phone whether or not they would be part of the line-up.

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