National cabinet Minister Georgina te Heuheu has announced she will retire from parliament at the end of this term.
“Now is a good time to go. The National Party is in good heart. It has strong leadership. The National Government has outlined a credible programme for New Zealand’s future, and it’s now time for family and friends.
“I came in under MMP at a time when the National Government had embarked on an ambitious programme to settle Treaty injustices and to work to lift Māori participation in the economy and society. I’m proud to have been part of this key policy direction as I strongly believe it has set the course for a strong and enduring future for all New Zealanders.
“I have had 15 great years as a Member of the National Party Caucus. I have served under three Prime Ministers. Jim Bolger was Prime Minister when I came in and I have had the privilege to serve twice in Cabinet, first under Jenny Shipley and now under John Key.
“During that time I have had the opportunity of contributing to some very challenging issues that go to the heart of who we are as New Zealanders, including promoting the reconciliation of the interests of Māori and their fellow New Zealanders.
“I’ve endeavoured to do this by promoting reasoned debate and hopefully, exercising a degree of calm, and quiet determination.
“I am very proud to have served in the current Cabinet in this term. John Key has a very keen sense of what it takes to build a dynamic, inclusive society and I’ll be working hard up to the election to ensure he gets the chance to carry that leadership on for our country.
“I also hope New Zealanders give him a good mandate to pursue a vision for New Zealand that recognises that every New Zealander has an important role to play in building a strong nation.
“Politics is a brutal game at times. I have tried to focus on the issues rather than personalities. Politics can be all-encompassing and often you forget there are other things in life.
“I know there are other challenges out there, but for now I’m looking forward to going home and enjoying my family. I only hope they’re looking forward to the same thing.”
Mrs te Heuheu entered parliament as a list MP in the first MMP election in 1996.
She was the first Maori woman to gain a law degree from Victoria University and and be admitted to the High Court as Barrister and Solicitor.
She practised law in Wellington and Rotorua before becoming an MP.
Her career in politics saw her become the first Maori woman to gain election as an MP for the National Party; the first Maori woman to chair the Maori Affairs Select Committee, and only the second Maori woman to be appointed to a New Zealand Cabinet.
Her ministerial portfolios from 1998 to 1999 were Minister of Women’s Affairs, Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Minister of Health.
She is now Minister for Courts, Pacific Island Affairs, Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister of Maori Affairs.
Prime Minister John Key said:
“I want to thank Georgina for the contribution she has made in her career in national politics over the last 15 years, and also for her public service in a myriad of other roles.
“In particular I want to record my appreciation for the role Mrs te Heuheu has played over the years in helping to grow the relationship between iwi and the National Party,” says Mr Key.
Two other ministers, Simon Power and Wayne Mapp, have announced they are retiring at the end of this term; Richard Worth and Pansy Wong have already stood down and Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie has announced she will retire in November too.
Having a turn over of Ministers and MPs is good for the health of the party. It makes it much easier to refresh caucus and cabinet without putting any noses out of joint.