John Key's resignation creates political shockwaves

John Key (Simon Wong/Newshub.)
John Key (Simon Wong/Newshub.)

Not only did John Key's resignation come as a shock to his own colleagues, it sent a wave of disbelief across the rest of Parliament too - and even across the Tasman.

And the leaders of almost all other parties couldn't quite believe what was happening.

Four Labour leaders have tried and failed to bring down Mr Key. Andrew Little was preparing to be the fifth until the bombshell dropped.

"I was taken somewhat by surprise by the Prime Minister's announcement today" he said.

It is a welcome surprise though. It means Labour won't have to come up against the force that is Brand Key at next year's election.

Greens co-leader James Shaw was also blindsided.

"Look I was as surprised as anybody frankly," he says.

Enter Winston Peters - one of Mr Key's foes, and surprisingly pragmatic.

"The circumstances are understandable. It's a tough job, things were not going well. He was seen as out of touch, and I think he made a decision," he says.

On the Government's own benches, praises flowed.

"I'm gonna miss him," said United Future leader Peter Dunne.

"Why would you kill yourself being leader forever when history shows you can't," said ACT leader David Seymour.

"I did think he'd take us through to the next election and resign afterwards," said Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox.

And across the ditch, Mr Key's bromance with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull came to a heart-breaking end.

"I sent him a text message saying 'say it ain't so bro'," said Mr Turnbull. "He will be a great loss to New Zealand and the world."

That sentiment was the same on the streets of New Zealand.

Now the big question will be who can replace Mr Key.