13 Dec 2022

PM Jacinda Ardern reveals which MPs will be retiring at the next election

11:58 am on 13 December 2022
(Clockwise from top right) Aupito William Sio, Poto Williams, David Clark, Jamie Strange, Paul Eagle, and Marja Lubeck will retire at the 2023 general elections.

(Clockwise from top right) Aupito William Sio, Poto Williams, David Clark, Jamie Strange, Paul Eagle, and Marja Lubeck will retire at the 2023 general elections. Photo: RNZ / Jogai Bhatt, VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox, RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King, VNP / Phil Smith

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced ministers Poto Williams, Aupito William Sio and David Clark will retire at the next election.

Labour MPs Jamie Strange, Marja Lubeck and Paul Eagle will also retire then.

In a statement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said all six had made important contributions to the government and the lives of New Zealanders.

"These decisions come in the midst of Labour's selection process for seats in the 2023 elections. MPs have made these decisions in good time to allow succession planning for both Cabinet and caucus," she said.

"They've each made their own call based on their personal circumstances - which I both understand and respect."

She said the decisions came amid Labour's selection process for seats in the 2023 election, and would have no immediate impact on Cabinet.

A Cabinet reshuffle is planned for early next year.

Ardern said Māngere MP and Minister for Pacific Peoples and Courts, Sio, had done huge work in the Pacific, been a fierce advocate for his community and taken a central role in the Dawn Raids apology. He first entered Parliament in 2008.

Sio said he would in April be marking 15 years advocating for Pacific communities as an MP, and he had other challenges he wanted to get into.

"Twenty-two years in public life, and I've got other responsibilities as a matai of a very strong extended family across the region, so I've got to pay attention to that side of my life."

The single standout moment for him was the Dawn Raids apology, he said.

"The Dawn Raids ... and the racist policies of the 1970s was a stain on the Pacific peoples of Aotearoa and the role that the prime minister played, I will always be eternally grateful that she was able to humble herself and allowed me to place that mat of humility."

However, the responsibilities of being an MP meant he was unable for instance to attend the funeral of his brother's wife in Australia.

"This life is all-consuming, it's relentless, and you can't do everything and I've been privileged that the sacrifice of my family has enabled me to do my best."

He believed those he advocated for would feel it had been worth it however, and was proud in the increased funding for the Ministry of Pacific Peoples and across other agencies. He had every confidence in the Labour team heading into the 2023 campaign.

"I'm going back to Samoa, to the village, take my shirt off, not answer that phone call, not wear a tie and just spend some time with the villagers."

MP for Dunedin and Minister for Consumer Affairs, Statistics and State Owned Enterprises, Clark, had "in recent times, led our work on supermarket reform and demonstrated his intellect but clear focus on protecting the most vulnerable through consumer finance reform," Ardern said.

Clark entered Parliament in 2011 as the MP for Dunedin North. He resigned the Health portfolio in 2020 after driving his family 20km to a beach during the first alert level 4 lockdown, in breach of the rules.

He said it was the right time, and while he had loved his job for over a decade it was time to put his family first.

He said he was proud to have got the decision and funding across the line for the Dunedin hospital rebuild, and had loved the work on the grocery studies.

"I think I've made clear in the past what my biggest regrets are... I mean it's not an exit interview today, there's still the best part of a year to run I expect so I'll have plenty more chances to have chats with the media about the joys of the role but it is the right time for me."

He said whether he wanted to remain in his portfolios in the coming year, he said that was a decision for the prime minister.

Labour MP Rachel Brooking confirmed she would be putting her name forward for the Dunedin seat.

Ardern said Christchurch East MP and Minister for Disability and Conservation Poto Williams had brought her experience in the community sector to Cabinet, working across diverse groups, and had done a "huge amount of work on the implementation of gun reforms".

Williams first entered Parliament in 2013. She came under pressure as Police Minister when ram raids and burglaries spiked, and was replaced in the role by Chris Hipkins during the last Cabinet reshuffle.

Williams said she believed her community needed "someone with fresh eyes and fresh energy to take them to the next place and for myself I'm wanting to pursue other interests while she still had "gas in the tank".

"You come into this role not expecting it to be easy, you expect it to be hard, and you want to ... give it your best and that's what I've done."

She said she had always planned to have about 10 years in Parliament so she'd be able to do more with her career - but she rejected questions about rats and sinking ships.

"I have to really push back on that, we are in for a fight next year but it's a fight that we can win and I'm here right until the very end to make sure."

Retiring MPs Lubeck (list), Eagle (Rongotai) and Strange (Hamilton East) had been passionate advocates for their communities. All three entered Parliament in 2017.

Lubeck said her family was the most important thing in her life and she wanted to be back for them, but she still had work to do over the next year before leaving politics.

"I'm chairing the education workforce committee, there's a lot fo work going through there, I'm also a member of the ethnic caucus where we are doing a lot of work on for example migrant exploitation and things like that. I'm not ready yet but I will be ready."

Strange and Eagle were not at Parliament this morning.