NZ Election 2020: Nikki Kaye, Amy Adams confirm they're quitting

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye is quitting politics, while fellow National MP Amy Adams is also leaving.

Kaye was the National Party deputy leader until Tuesday when leader Todd Muller suddenly resigned, leaving the party in disarray. MPs quickly flew to Wellington, where late on Tuesday it was announced Collins would become leader, with Gerry Brownlee as deputy.

“Yesterday I advised the president and leader of the National Party Judith Collins that I have decided to retire at this election," Kaye said.

"I made the decision not to stand for leader or deputy on Monday and I offered my support to Judith prior to the caucus vote. While Judith made it clear to me that I would be part of her senior leadership team and education spokesperson, I am ready to retire.

"I believe Judith is absolutely the right leader for the party at this time and I will be supporting Judith and the party to win this election. New Zealand needs National."

Kaye said she had "huge respect and admiration for Todd, Michelle and their family as they work through this difficult time. I hope that people continue to show compassion for Todd".

When announcing his resignation, Muller said staying leader had "become untenable from a health perspective".

Adams said in a statement that it has been a "honour and a privilege" to be an MP but won't take up an offer of a list position. 

"Last year I made the decision that I would retire at this election and accordingly I did not seek nomination for the seat of Selwyn that I have held for 12 years. In May I was asked to stay on as a list only candidate and take on the role of co-ordinating our Covid-19 Recovery policy framework.

"As I said at that time I decided to stay because with the scale of challenges the country was facing, I saw being able to contribute in this way as an honour and a role I could not turn down.

"With Todd Muller's decision to resign the leadership, the most important issue for our party was to get a strong and effective leadership team in place without delay and I am proud at the way in which the caucus managed this. I am in no doubt that in Judith Collins we have the right leader for the challenges ahead and Judith and the team have my full support."

Following the statements, Collins thanked the outgoing MPs.

"Nikki and Amy have both made incredible contributions at very senior levels with consistent dedication to their work and to their constituencies.

"They are both highly-skilled professionals who will continue to make a difference in their next careers.

"I thank them for everything they have done for the National Party and New Zealand politics over the years, and I wish them the very best for the future."

Michael Woodhouse was dumped from the Health portfolio on Wednesday in favour of Dr Shane Reti, with Collins taking issue with him not informing the Minister of Health that he had received personal information of COVID-19 patients from former National president Michelle Boag and part of Kaye's Auckland Central campaign team.

National MP Hamish Walker revealed last week he was stepping down after admitting leaking similar information to media. He also received the information from Boag, who went on to resign her party membership.

Woodhouse didn't send the information to media, but deleted emails last week. 

It has been reported that Kaye was instrumental in decisions made by the National leadership last week.

Kaye, a former Education Minister who has battled breast cancer, said it wasn't possible "to predict the events that have occurred".

"What I have learned from breast cancer and other life events is you can’t always predict what is around the corner.

"I have spent most of my adult life serving the public and the National Party. This is personally the right time for me to leave. Cancer has taught me that life can change in a moment and I am ready for the next chapter."

She said she will "never forget the compassion showed to me by the people of New Zealand when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I am grateful for all the opportunities the National Party and our great country has provided me."

Political commentator Bryce Edwards told Newshub that Kaye's resignation wasn't good news for the centre-right party as it won't help create an image of unity.

"This is absolutely devastating for National. It really undermines the new leader, Judith Collins, just when she is trying to be that fresh breath of air, showing that the party is united, confident," he said on Thursday.

"It seems that the events of last week just carry on reverberating and it seems that Nikki Kaye is going because of what happened last week… deputy leaders have a role of looking after the caucus and keeping everyone in line, keeping everyone united.

"Todd Muller as leader really was just spokesperson for the party. He was the person that had to be the outward facing leader. It was Nikki Kaye's role to deal with Hamish Walker, to deal with Michael Woodhouse. Obviously, she didn't do that well. We had what was just a terrible week for National."

Following Collins and Brownlee's election as leaders, Kaye sent them her congratulations.

"They have more than 40 years political experience. Judith has a great track record as a senior minister and a highly effective opposition performer. A lot of people don’t know all of Judith’s background, she has been a fighter and a fantastic local representative."

During her time as deputy, Kaye came under criticism while trying to defend the diversity of the caucus. She referred to frontbench finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith as Māori, which he later denied being. 

Kaye entered Parliament in 2008, taking Auckland Central off Labour. She would take on - and defeat - future Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern twice.

The race for that electorate at this year's election is now up-in-the-air.

"[It's] an electorate that Nikki Kaye has held for a few terms and it now makes that electorate race open… I think [Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick] now has a very strong chance. She must be the frontrunner for that electorate. That could have a significant consequence for the election," Edwards told Newshub.

The Green Party has been around the 5 percent threshold for a while. In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll in May, the party sat at 5.5 percent. Since then it has made several announcements, including a high-profile one regarding tax.

If it doesn't hit 5 percent without winning a seat, it won't return to Parliament.

Edwards said he believes Labour will "now be under pressure to do a deal with the Greens essentially and let Chlöe Swarbrick have an open run at winning this".

There has been an outpouring of support for Kaye, including from some Green MPs.

In a tweet, Swarbrick said: "All the best to Nikki Kaye in whatever she decides to set her mind to next. Talking to community across Auckland Central, it’s clear she’s been a hard-working local MP. Nothing can ever be taken for granted in politics, and leaving on one’s own terms is a powerful decision."

Julie Anne Genter: "I want to acknowledge & thank Nikki Kaye. I first met her 11 yrs ago when she was new MP for Akl & I was an urban planner talking to her about planning rules. She was in the role to help people, and she supported important leg change for women & equality.

"We were in different parties and probably disagreed on quite a few policies, but I know you were there for the right reasons and I wish you all the best post-politics."

Eugenie Sage: "Very best wishes for the next stage in life’s journey. You’ll be missed in NZParliament for your energy, intelligence & advocacy, espec. on education; and for opposing mining on Aotea/Great Barrier".