20 May 2022

National MP Jacqui Dean to leave Parliament after election

11:15 am on 20 May 2022

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, a National Party MP and former deputy mayor, has announced she will not contest next year's election.

Jacqui Dean in the House

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean Photo: ©VNP / Phil Smith

In a statement, Dean said she had spent 25 years in the public service and "it's a long time by anyone's standards, so now feels like the right time to signal my intention to move on," she said.

"Waitaki is one of the largest electorates in New Zealand covering Central Otago, the Mackenzie District, Waitaki and parts of South Canterbury. It's a vast electorate and I have loved representing every inch of it."

A former professional actor, she became well known for hosting children's television show Play School in the '80s, and was a councillor and deputy mayor in the '90s.

She was also the stated reason for former National leader Judith Collins' demotion of former leader Simon Bridges late last year, over a lewd comment Bridges had made to Dean five years earlier.

Collins was later removed as leader over her handling of the issue.

She was also an ardent campaigner for the banning of drugs including BZP party pills and salvia divinorum.

Dean first won the Otago seat in 2005, and has held the Waitaki seat since it was re-established in its current form in 2008. She was Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister under Bill English's leadership, and is now spokesperson for Conservation and Assistant Speaker of the House.

Assistant Speaker Jacqui Dean

Dean in the Speaker's chair in her Assistant Speaker role. Photo: ©VNP / Phil Smith

She has also been chair of the Petitions Select Committee since the end of 2020, and chair of the Parliamentary Culture Committee since April last year.

"I feel proud of the contribution I've been able to make... National is in a fantastic position and I will do everything I can in the next 18 months to support Christopher Luxon, Nicola Willis and my Caucus colleagues to ensure National wins the 2023 election," she said.

National's leader Christopher Luxon said Dean had done a "tremendous job" in her 17 years as a National MP, handling one of the country's largest electorates.

"Jacqui's political career has been characterised by a spirit of public service," he said.

"As National's current spokesperson for Conservation, I have seen Jacqui's passion for preserving New Zealand's outdoors for future generations. Her parliamentary experience and procedural knowledge has also made her an excellent Assistant Speaker.

"Jacqui, thank you for your contribution, service and commitment. We wish you all the very best."