New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell stepping down after 2020 election

New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell has decided not to seek re-election after the 2020 election, citing an intention to "pursue other passions".

Mitchell said on Friday New Zealand First leader Winston Peters "expressed his wish" for him to stay on, but Mitchell said the party leader "ultimately understood" the reasons why he has chosen to leave Parliament. 

The list MP said working in Parliament has been "one of the best experiences of my life" and he said he's "greatly enriched for having the privilege of serving my country" for the past six years.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed working with colleagues from across the House and especially my caucus whom many have become life-long friends."

Mitchell is one of nine New Zealand First MPs in Parliament. All of them are list MPs meaning no electorate seat is currently held by a New Zealand First member.

New Zealand First announced on Friday that each of the current MPs will stand for re-election at the upcoming September vote - all except for Mitchell following his announcement to step down.

Further releases of candidates will be announced in coming weeks, the party said.

New Zealand First MP and Cabinet minister Shane Jones has already revealed his plan to stand in Northland, the seat Peters seized from National in 2015 but lost to them again in 2017.

Former National Party leader Simon Bridges earlier this year ruled out working with New Zealand First after the election. The new National leader Todd Muller has not yet indicated if he will follow that same path.

Mitchell's intention to step down after the election follows a string of other MPs who have announced plans to do the same, including National MP Maggie Barry, National MP Sarah Dowie, and Labour MP Clare Curran, to name a few.

Mitchell courted controversy in October last year after he was kicked out of a bar in Tauranga following an incident with security and bar staff.

Mitchell denied claims he and his friend told a security guard "we are above the law" after being asked to leave the bar. 

New Zealand First entered into a coalition agreement with Labour after the 2017 election, forming a Government with Labour's confidence and supply partner the Green Party.

Newshub's latest poll showed New Zealand First down to 2.7 percent, and on that number it would not get back into Parliament unless it won an electorate.