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Labour to elect new deputy leader after Annette King steps down; Andrew Little to nominate Jacinda Ardern

Labour to elect new deputy leader after Annette King steps down; Andrew Little to nominate Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern

Labour will elect a new deputy leader after Annette King announced she would step down from the position and not run in this year's general election.

Party leader Andrew Little said he would nominate Jacinda Ardern for the role, following her by-election victory in the Mt Albert elecorate last weekend.

King said Ardern had her full support to take on the position. The vote will be held at Labour's caucus meeting next Tuesday.

Speaking on Radio NZ after the decision, King said she had not had her arm twisted over the decision. Ardern had needed a base from holding an electorate seat, which she now had, King said. Ardern would be able to hold the seat "for as long as she likes."

It's all about coalition

Labour was well placed heading towards the 2017 election, having renewed its caucus more so than other parties in recent years, King said.

For Labour to lead a government after 23 September, it would likely require a coalition agreement. King noted Labour's recent agreement with the Green Party, and also ventured that Labour has "a good relationship with New Zealand First."

The latest Roy Morgan poll on Tuesday showed National on 48%, Labour 26%, the Greens 13% and New Zealand First 8%.

King was first elected to Parliament in 1984. Read her parliamentary profile including ministerial experience here. She was only one of three Labour MPs on the party's current front bench (top 12) with ministerial experience (David Parker and Nania Mahuta being the other two). Other Labour MPS with ministerial experience who aren't leaving Parliament this election are Damien O'Connor, Trevor Mallard and Ruth Dyson.

See the announcement from Labour:

Labour MPs will elect a new Deputy Leader at next Tuesday’s caucus following Annette King’s decision to step down and retire, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“Annette has been a wonderful deputy since I became Leader. She’s tirelessly supported me and I’ve really appreciated her wise advice, humour and huge experience.

“She’s also been an excellent Health Spokesperson. While I wanted her to stay in that role, I accept her reasons for wanting to retire. She has been an outstanding servant of the Labour Party and worked hard for a better and fairer New Zealand. She has made a huge contribution in government, opposition and in Rongotai.

“Caucus next Tuesday will vote for a new Deputy Leader. I will be nominating Jacinda Ardern for that position. She has performed extremely well as a list MP and her resounding win in the Mt Albert by-election is further proof that she has what it takes to be my deputy,” says Andrew Little.

See an announcement from Annette King:

“After some reflection, I have decided to step down from the Deputy Leader’s position in the Labour Party,” says Rongotai MP Annette King.

“I have been considering my position for some time and after discussing the matter with colleagues I feel now is the right time to pass the baton.

“I have also decided to retire at the end of this Parliamentary term.

“It’s been the privilege of my life to have served the party for more than 30 years and to have worked for the people of Rongotai for 24 years.

“This is totally my decision. I have always acted in the best interests of the party and at the forefront of my mind is ensuring Labour is in the best possible position to change the Government in September.

“Jacinda Ardern has my full support to be Labour’s new Deputy Leader. I have watched her political career blossom since she became an MP in 2008 and mentored her when she needed help. After her emphatic victory in Mt Albert, she’s well and truly ready to step up.

“All my energies will still be focused on changing this Government. It’s the only way to fix the housing crisis, provide the health care families need and the education parents deserve for their children,” says Annette King.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Good luck Annette
BUT 30 years as a MP is too long they need to bring in a limit to make sure fresh ideas are brought forth and we can escape from the hamster wheel

Just added some comments from King on Radio NZ. Talking coalition potential after the Sept election she noted the Greens, but ventured that Labour also has a "good relationship with New Zealand First." Seeing as Little has basically ruled out the Maori and Mana parties, I think watch this space...

It would appear Labour has been watching the MSM's love affair with Jacinda. But what about her appeal beyond the Ponsonby and Grey Lynn crowd?

Personally I think Stuart Nash would be a better choice.

Perhaps experience wise Nash, but the team dynamics of Little/Ardern (fired up/calm) will work going into the election. Jacinda would do well to tap into the youthful vote via social media.

... Ardern & Nash will thump Wild Bill & the Gnats ... and sweep into power for three terms ... commencing 2020 ...

Until then , there's little to inspire the electorate about NZ Labour's leadership ...

... another 3 years , team ... 3 more years !

Three more years to sell NZ out from under the next generations of Kiwis, hurrah!

It was only a few days ago that Labour said there would be no deputy leader change going into the election. Funny how things change so quickly.
I am unsure of the media's love affair with Arden - lets remember that she isn't the fresh face anymore after 9 years in the House. And what exactly has she achieved?
It's all rather academic for Labour though has their chances of winning the next election are practically zero - deck chairs on the Titanic.

I don't think that is any longer the case - well, not from my point of view anyway. Andrew Little has done what he needed to do to steer round the iceberg. I'm your classic swing voter - as yet completely undecided and for sure more interested in Labour this year than I have been in the last three elections.

mmmm, not convinced yet by Labour. Not really convinced by Little.
I'm looking for more boldness in policy. They aren't going far enough.
At this stage I'm probably going with Winnie or Greens, although I'm quite interested in the TOP party, but don't think I'd vote for them from a strategic voting perspective.

Don't underestimate the ability of Little. I know lawyers who worked with him in hos early union days - and they rated him highly. I say many are pre-judging him because he hasnt got the corporate power 'look' which carried JK for so long. He's smart enough to know timing is everything and to know there is no point in playing the cards too soon.

Im picking a whitewash of the Nats.

It's like people actually want glib car-salesman show-ponies who'll tell them anything they want to hear.

Sometimes I think that's 90% of the voters, the rest of the time I think its 95%!

John Key: "Don't care - got to be PM! Haha!"

The last one sure worked out well...campaigned on the urgent need to address the housing crisis, then refused to acknowledge the crisis exists for the next eight years he was in power.

I will be....if you dont gamble and try and push change it will never happen.

The polls would indicate that the population doesn't agree with you. The polls have not shifted in 9 years and I think in September we will have a parliament with roughly the number we have now. Labour does not look like a government in waiting. I think Little is a decent enough person and one of their better leaders they have had since Clarke. However, he should have sacked Poto Williams over the Jackson situation but he can't as the party is divided - most left wing parties in the Anglosphere are facing the same issues. Are they about "identity politics" or are they for "working people". It appears Labour and the Greens are going more and more identity orientated - they will be the reason they stay in opposition semi-permanent.

I don't see Labour as divided. The party has successfully bought in many new candidates and now with the likely promotion on Jacinda there is a fresh look about Labour that is advancing on a number of fronts. Dunne will have a tough time returning to Parliament now that he is up against a strong candidate in Greg O'Connor. Willie Jackson will help prevent a Maori defection and will help get out the urban Maori vote. Most importantly, Jacinda sends the changing of generations message that is needed to capitalise on the housing crisis. As Patrick Gower says the 'vibe' has changed.

Meanwhile look at National's key players -Bill English, Steven Joyce, Nick Smith, Gerry Brownlee -in no way can they represent the future. They are old, tired and out of ideas....

I know you really want this to be true but the polls doesn't reflect this wish of yours. Arden isn't new - being in Parliament 9 years now and her greatest achievement is to permanently lose Auckland Central to National that had been Labour for almost 90 years. And now she has abandoned it when an easier option came alone. If National wants Dunne to win then it will do a deal like Epsom - which are ok now since Labour/Greens are doing it or not doing it depending on who you talk to. National overwhelming won the party vote there.
The media will pretend that the election is a close run thing - for clicks and views which equals $ - but the polls have not moved significantly in 9 years. Nothing has changed.

Facts on the ground have changed AK79.

Dunne is the past -will Ohariu voters co-operate with an election deal like Epsom -not sure -and last elections party vote is not a safe indication of what will happen with the candidate vote -National's loss in Mt Roskill shows that.

Polls show housing is now the chief concern of the public is another fact on the ground. Now Labour has someone in Jacinda of the right generation who can strongly advocate for change.

As Paddy Gower says -the vibe is changing. AK79 it is always foolhardy to predict future results from past results.

I am not saying Labour will win. But the vibe has changed and if Labour works hard with that.... who knows.

You are right who knows what will happen. However, for things to change then things need to change. I think Dunne was past it 20 years ago but apparently people in his Ohairu know better than me on this.

Labour still looks divided - a few days ago King was saying that she wasn't going. It was only "ageist" to prefer Arden over her. Now it is her decision - really???

I think housing is a big election year issue - no doubt. However, this assumes people will prefer Labour's solution to housing + all their other policies to National's solution + all their other policies. Let's see. But the polls don't look encouraging if one supports Labour.

National's loss in Mt Roskill shows that. and not forgetting National's loss in Northland - bigger than Ben Hur, that one.

"If Little doesn't respond to Jacinda Ardern's emphatic by-election victory in Mt Albert by promoting her to deputy-leader, then he's a fool. Success merits promotion. Any failure on Little's part to acknowledge Arden's pulling-power in Auckland will only fuel suspicions that he lacks the fortitude to shake up the delicate factional balance of Labour's caucus. Little simply cannot afford to let such suspicions grow: not inside Labour, and certainly not beyond it. Voters only make prime ministers out of politicians who can see not only what needs to be done, but who also possess the guts to do it." source below

Just Remember - WP was eliminated from parliament when national won the Tauranga seat in 2005, banishing him to the wilderness.... National then danced on his grave... do you think he has forgotten that? I am not so sure he is a necessarily going to go with National

Tauranga - The 1984 election was won by Winston Peters, who had previously represented the Hunua electorate. In 1990 until March 1991, Peters was Minister of Māori Affairs,[16] but he was sacked from Cabinet by Prime Minister Jim Bolger in October 1991 after repeatedly criticising his National Party leadership. Peters remained as a National backbencher, continuing to criticise the party. In late 1992, when the National Party was considering possible candidates for the elections in the following year, it was decided that Peters would not be allowed to seek renomination for the Tauranga electorate. Peters unsuccessfully challenged this decision in the High Court, and in early 1993, he chose to resign from the party and from Parliament. This prompted a by-election in Tauranga some months before the scheduled general election. Peters stood as an independent and won with over 90% of the vote, assisted by the major parties not standing candidates against him.[17] Shortly before the 1993 election, Peters established New Zealand First and retained the Tauranga electorate. He continued to represent Tauranga until he was defeated in the 2005 election by National's Bob Clarkson.[18]

Voter turnout was 30% and Jacinta's majority was 10,000 down from 20000? odd previously. If everyone was so happy about Jacinta why 1/2 the normal turnout?

Where is Labour's "natural" stronghold? the poor in South Auckland?

WP is an opportunist, will he forgive? well I'd suggest from what I have seen written he is highly annoyed that the Green's % has passed NZF. Then there is the policy front, NZF and the Green's differ significantly.

We see TOP got close to 5% I wonder if that will flow through to the General election?

It will be a very interesting election, mind you it always is, looking forward to it.

Don't forget - the poor is now everyone in Auckland not owning a house. And it's growing all the time because of National's failed approach to the housing crisis (i.e. denying its existence after campaigning on it).

Bob Clarkson - LOL LOL LOL - I completely forgot about him! How embarrassing was that for Tauranga?

When you think on it, since MMP, the Nats have saddled and hoodwinked NZ with the likes of Rodney Hyde (Mr. yellow jacket and dancing shoes), Peter Dunne (of the infamous worm fame) and now David oops-I-missed-the-opportunity-to-vote-on-ridding-AKL-of-the-MUL Seymour.

And who could forget David's initial campaign video;

All in all - quite a barrel of laughs.

Annette's always been a favourite of mine - NZ's been lucky to have her in the Opposition health portfolio. She exposed the folly of the way waiting lists were being "managed downwards" by National. Not that the wait times themselves have improved under National, but at least thanks to the Opposition we aren't being lied to anymore and all the "tricks" have been exposed.

I do think Jacinda is another tireless campaigner/worker in Parliament. I thought she performed well in Opposition when going up against Paula Bennett in social development.

Also glad to see Kelvin Davis yesterday discussing potential economic benefits of a medicinal marijuana industry in NZ. And I was happy with Willie Jackson's decision to re-enter their fold. His work on the ground in establishing and running MUMA augers well for his understanding of the real issues facing urban Maori.

All in all - Labour are looking better and better in the run up to this election.

Annette will be missed. She carried much respect and mana. For me working in mental health in Canterbury I will miss the behind the scenes work Annette has done to expose the under funding of mental health services in Canterbury. Mental Health funding will definitely be an election issue for Canterbury because of this work. It is this sort of campaigning that demonstrates the immense value of institutional knowledge and experience.

Yet with change comes opportunity. For Labour it is a chance to find a new champion to heal the divides in our society. Someone who will stand up for future generations. Who will give them opportunities -not accuse them of being work-shy stoners. Who will fix the housing crisis, not call it a good problem to have.

We need someone who will bring people together not use coded words to drive them apart. Is that someone Team Andrew and Jacinda?

I have an article which includes Bill English's dog whistle political attacks on young workers -skip to the end paragraph if you just want to read that bit.

It is this sort of divisive narrative that Andrew and Jacinda need to counter with a more inclusive hopeful narrative.

Let me put up a different view Brendon. There is heaps of money in Mental Health. But most of the cash is captured by a bunch of civil service employed people who maintain their ineffective structures and jobs as first priority. And inadvertently stop any modernisation that would benefit the population. Overpaid civil servants are Labours first constituency these last few decades. Poor workers don't get a look in. The likes of Annette King was never going to unsettle these civil servants.

I don't know about civil servants -I work with nurses and other health professionals. When I first started we were all registered and paid a professional wage. Now there is a lot more enrolled and new grad nurses not getting paid as much. The job is just as difficult - maybe harder as mental health teams are less experienced -inpatient services deal with a lot of conflict type situations, a lot of assessing risk, trying to defuse or head off situations before bad stuff happens. While in the community caseloads are high....

I feel for you and thank you for all the care your profession gives. Mental health in NZ is woefully underfunded and our problems quite immense, particularly in Chch and also in Auckland. I have always felt if we over-funded healthy teeth and healthy minds in NZ - we would save a great deal on many physical illnesses that follow poor health care in these areas.

I assume you mean money being spent on wages at the Ministry of Health for those civil servants administering the mental health portfolio? Have you got any specific figures or links to OIA responses etc. to quantify the amount of "heaps" allocated to this specific area?

And bear in mind, Annette King hasn't been in charge of the purse-strings for nine long years now. Hence, what's the Government Minister(s) on the TSY benches done for you? Surely over a nine year period they should have downsized and restructured head office civil servants by now and got more money out into the community providing the actual services?

Brendon and Kate. Sorry but you missed the point entirely. Those " nurses" etc behave like civil servants of the 'Gliding On " variety. And by being this way force the public to be shortchanged. If they were behaving as true health professionals they would be leading the charge to a modern health service rather rather than retarding it. Worse still they use the publics high regard that for nurses etc, and genuine concern for peoples health to fool the public.
Kate. Figures. Since the Mason report mental health funding near tripled. By deliberate design and implemented consistently over near 20 years by National and Labour goverments both. Accept this was a wonderful thing, almost unprecedented in terms of sector funding. Your National / Labour point scoring on this one is misinformed.

It was your original post that singled out Labour's poor record and unlikely improvement in the portfolio - hence my response.

Fair point Kate. "in my defence" I can say my criticism was about alliance between Labour and it's constituency within the mental health industry which blocks progress. I still hold that there is heaps of money in mental health. I would add that there are heaps of opportunity for improvement but those insiders who keep bleating about the money just say that in ignorance and sadly to divert attention from their lack of initiative.

Hey Bill, Remember to hand over leadership to #Vote Nikki Kaye or Paul Henry just days out from election. Thanks Mate

Just as I'm not convinced by Little, I am not convinced by Ardern.
She seems a nice person, and moderately intelligent, but IMHO far from Deputy Leader material, at least at this stage.
I only see the value in her for Labour if she can capture a LARGE chunk of the 18-40 demographic.
Can she?

Jacinda has 61,400 Twitter followers - Paula Bennett has 7,568 - a very good indication of popularity with the younger electorate..

[ unnecessary personal abuse removed. Ed]

I rate Little more than most. and like some of the commentators above Ardern seems attractive but actually has not done anything much despite having 9 years in already. (yes I know - sexism alert). Labour is not ever going to shake off it's ineptitude and Ardern wont help.
National also knows the way seat distribution works means it's grip on power is tenuous even with the current good polling.
So - who knows.

I will not be voting for National,despite being a retired share and property investor,paying tax at the top rate Why? Well,I have never believed that any political party has all the answers,so have never wanted to join any party. What does concern me is democracy itself and to me,that requires a reasonably regular change of government. Quite simply,the current bunch have had long enough and it is an iron rule of politics that the longer any party is in power,the more arrogant and out of touch it becomes.
Should there be a change later this year,then I am certain that I will support some policies and object to others and if they stick around long enough,then I will want to see them thrown out in their turn.