Nick Smith 'not necessarily' being pushed out - Simon Bridges

Nick Smith's political career is "not necessarily" coming to an end, according to his boss, despite a dramatic tumble down the National Party list.

The veteran former Minister for the Environment reentered Parliament 15th on the list last year, but has been demoted to 26th in Sunday's shadow Cabinet reshuffle by new leader Simon Bridges.

He's been sliding in the ranks since 2002, when he peaked at third. In 2005 he was dropped to fifth, in 2011 to sixth, in 2014 to 13th, in 2017 to 15th and now to 26th.

Asked if it was a sign Dr Smith's 28-year Parliamentary career was over, Mr Bridges told The AM Show on Monday "not necessarily, no".

"It's up to him. Let's see what he decides to do. He's got some significant responsibilities there and I want to see him work hard on them."

Dr Smith is now spokesman for State Services and electoral law reform.

It's not the first time rumours of Dr Smith's demise have potentially been exaggerated - in 2004 he was found guilty of contempt of court, and considered resigning. He didn't, and ended up increasing his majority in the Nelson electorate at the 2005 election.

In 2012 he resigned from Cabinet after writing to ACC on behalf of a former National Party activist, using a letterhead signifying he was also Minister for ACC. He returned to Cabinet in 2013, when he was appointed Minister of Conservation and Minister of Housing.