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McCully stays foreign minister until May

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/12/2016

Prime Minister Bill English wants to spend the coming months learning the ins and outs of the foreign ministry before appointing a successor to outgoing Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

Mr McCully, who announced on Thursday that he would not be contesting the next election, is one of the longest-serving foreign ministers in the developed world, according to Mr English who wants to learn from his experience.

Mr English said he needed to get a feel for the job before deciding a succession plan.

As part of that he expect Mr McCully to accompany him on various overseas trips in the new year.

"I've done some international work as a finance minister but there's a whole range of issues that the previous prime minister and the New Zealand foreign policy establishment are involved in that I'm not familiar with and when I've got a better picture of that I think I'll have a better idea of what the succession should look like," he said.

Mr McCully will remain as foreign minister until May 1 when he will move to the backbench, along with Education Minister Hekia Parata.

She signalled her departure from politics earlier this year.

Youth Minister Nikki Kaye is "likely" to take on the education portfolio in May but a final decision will depend on her health, Mr English said. Ms Kaye is being treated for breast cancer.

"Her progress and prognosis is good but we don't want to put pressure on a minister whose had some health issues," he said.

"Part of the rationale for May 1 is to ensure that there's plenty of time. She's in the list there with a light workload but if she returns to work health then she'll certainly get more work."

Ms Kaye has indicated she hopes to be back to a full workload when parliament resumes in February.

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