Former PM John Key's last day in Parliament next week

John Key's been leading a quieter life as a backbench MP (Bill English / Twitter)
John Key's been leading a quieter life as a backbench MP (Bill English / Twitter)

Former Prime Minister turned backbench MP John Key has finally set a date for his exit from politics.

Mr Key made his shock resignation announcement in December last year, wanting to leave the job while still on top.

He will give his valedictory speech on March 22 with his resignation effective from April 14. 

"One of the great privileges of my political career and my life was to meet so many hard-working and inspiring New Zealanders. I remain as ambitious for them, and New Zealand, as the day I entered Parliament," Mr Key said on Wednesday

"I would like to thank all those who backed me and the National-led Government to build a stronger and more resilient country. We got New Zealand back on its feet, got people into jobs, got back into surplus, and tackled natural disasters.

"I have enormous faith in the leadership team of Bill English and Paula Bennett to provide the stability and continuity we need to build on that strength, while continuing to support those in needs.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my wife Bronagh, and my children Stephie and Max. I absolutely could not have done this job without their ongoing love and support."

The Helensville MP said he'd stay on long enough in Parliament so as not to trigger a by-election in an election year.

There doesn't have to be a by-election if the general election is held within six months of a seat being vacated. Election Day is September 23.

Parliament needs to vote with a 75 percent majority to accept the early departure of MPs such as Mr Key and former Labour leader and New Lynn MP David Cunliffe who will also be retiring from politics.

Mr Cunliffe will give his valedictory speech on April 11, with his resignation effective from April 23.

"It's an enormous privilege to serve as a Member of the New Zealand Parliament and I have loved nearly every minute of it," he said in a statement.

"I also want to express my deep gratitude to family and friends who have sustained and enabled me to serve during my term in Parliament."

Mr Cunliffe will be part of the leadership team of Auckland-based management consulting firm Stakeholder Strategies Ltd.

He says he's looking forward to spending more time with his sons William and Cameron "who continue to inspire me".

The former leaders are just two of an exodus of politicians set to leave before the election.

They also include Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson who is set to take up a job as the New Zealand Consul-General in Los Angeles.

MP Exodus


  • East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully
  • Whanganui MP Chester Borrows
  • Helensville MP John Key
  • Tukituki MP Craig Foss
  • Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga
  • Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew
  • Waikato MP Linday Tisch
  • Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson
  • List MP and Education Minister Hekia Parata
  • List MP Jono Naylor
  • List MP Paul Foster-Bell


  • New Lynn MP David Cunliffe
  • List MP Clayton Cosgrove
  • Mt Albert MP David Shearer (already left Parliament, replaced by Jacinda Ardern)
  • Rongotai MP Annette King

Green Party:

  • List MP Catherine Delahunty
  • List MP Steffan Browning

New Zealand First:

  • List MP Barbara Stewart

It is not known whether Mr Key has his post-politics career lined up, but has said he'd be interested in sitting on a number of company boards or enter the international speaking circuit.

"It'll be a slightly quieter life," he said when he resigned.