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It's sad when they can't let go: NZ ex-PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/06/2017 Karen Sweeney and Boris Jancic

Former Australian politicians need to get over themselves once they leave the job says newly knighted former New Zealand prime minister Sir John Key.

Six months after his shock resignation Sir John has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday honours for the eight years he spent in the top job and his decade as National Party leader.

He still dabbles in politics as a speaker on the international circuit, including recent trips to Australia, and offers advice to his successor Bill English when it's wanted.

But it's a "bit sad" when politicians just can't let go, he says.

"You see a bit of it in Australia, people that just feel as though they have got to constantly be commentating, and I just don't think I'll do that. I just don't think it's very dignified," he told AAP.

"It's really like you need to get over yourself if you do that, I think ... you've got to let people get on and do their jobs."

He didn't specify who he was talking about but could have been referring to former Labor leader and political commentator Mark Latham, or former prime minister Tony Abbott who remains a Liberal MP two years after losing the leadership.

Like Mr Abbott in Australia it was Sir John who re-introduced knighthood's to New Zealand but with a much warmer welcome.

They had been scrapped by his predecessor, republican Helen Clark, who turned down the honour after leaving parliament in 2008.

Sir John said he couldn't bring back the honours and not accept one.

"I believe in this system," he said.

While Sir John focuses on moving forward, including in his new role as a director of Air New Zealand, the National Party is working on securing a fourth term in government in the September election.

Sir John concedes it's a tough ask but he won't take a loss personally.

"History tells you that's difficult," he said.

"But they're a government that's up to that challenge."

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