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Hekia Parata won't contest next election

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/10/2016

Education Minister Hekia Parata won't contest the next election, but says she'll stay in the role for as long as she's needed until then.

The National List MP advised Prime Minister John Key of her decision earlier this year after discussing her future with her family over the summer, she said when she announced the news publicly on Wednesday.

"I think that I have had the privilege of being in a number of portfolios, most particularly my dream one of education, I've had the opportunity and significant support to put in place a reasonably comprehensive system of reform and I think therefore at the end of that I will have made my contribution and it will be an opportunity for someone else," she said.

Prime Minister John Key praised Ms Parata, saying she was a strongly-performing minister who pushed the boundaries.

"We will miss her but we understand, for her own reasons, why she will stand down," he told reporters.

"She will definitely stay on as an MP until the next election, she may well stay as the minister, I haven't made that call yet."

A cabinet reshuffle is expected either late this year or early next year, but Mr Key said he hadn't made a decision on that.

Labour leader Andrew Little was complimentary.

"I think she is one of those ministers who you can say is there because she believes in doing the best for the children of New Zealand, irrespective of the different views we take about how to achieve that," he said.

"She has been a determined minister, she will go commanding a fair amount of respect from that role."

Ms Parata was first elected to Parliament in 2008 and has served as Education Minister since 2011.

She acknowledged there would always be more to do in the education portfolio, but said she didn't feel she was leaving behind unfinished business with the overhaul of education legislation on track to finish next year.

"When you have this opportunity you do what you can to the best of your ability and in my case you then move on and leave the field clear for others who are equally or more talented," she said.

It's not clear whether Ms Parata will remain in the portfolio until the election, with talks of a cabinet reshuffle, but she would not speculate on who might replace her.

"I think the Prime Minister will make an excellent choice whatever it is. Clearly I think he made an excellent choice in choosing me for this portfolio," she said.

Ms Parata said she had no plans beyond the election, but revealed she has no intention of taking up a diplomatic posting.

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