Prime Minister Resignation Address
Prime Minister Resignation Address
January 2023, Napier, New Zealand
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text
version below transcribed directly from audio]
Today, I have two important announcements to make.
The first is the election date.
Under the last government, the practice began of sharing the election date at
the beginning of election year.
Early announcements allow for planning and for preparation by the Electoral
Commission, by government agencies, and political parties -- and is, I believe, best practice. Thatís why in 2020 we announced at the beginning of election year, and I do so
The general election for 2023 will be held on Saturday the 14th of October.
(I can see in the room who has won the sweepstake.)
In setting this date, I've considered the advice of the Electoral Commission,
public holidays and school holidays, the advance voting periods, and important
events and fixtures. I believe this date best accommodates each of these
Consideration of the date over the summer, and the impending election and new
political term has also given me time for reflection.
I'm entering now my sixth year in office. And for each of these years, I have
given my absolute all.
I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever
have, but also one of the more challenging. You cannot, and should not do it
unless you have a full tank -- plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected
This summer, I had hoped to find a way to prepare not just
for another year, but
another term -- because that is what this year requires. I have not been able to
And so today, I am announcing that I will not be seeking re-election and that my
term as Prime Minister will conclude no later than the 7th of February.
This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life. But it has
also had its challenges.
Amongst an agenda focused on housing, child poverty, and climate change, we
encountered a major biosecurity incursion, a
domestic terror event, a
natural disaster, a
global pandemic, and an
economic crisis. The decisions that
had to be made have been continual and they have been weighty.
But I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably
would have departed two months into the job.
I am leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility, the
responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead, and also when you
I know what this job takes and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank
to do it justice. It's that simple.
But I absolutely believe and know there are others around me who do. We have achieved a huge amount in the last five years
-- and I'm so proud of that. We are in a fundamentally different place on climate change than where we were,
with ambitious targets and a plan to achieve them.
We have turned around child poverty statistics and made the most significant
increases in welfare and the state housing stock that we have seen in many decades.
Weíve made it easier to access education and training.
We've improved the pay and
conditions of workers, and shifted our settings towards a high wage, high
weíve worked hard to make progress on issues around our national identity.
And I believe that teaching history in schools and celebrating our own
indigenous national holiday [Matariki] will all make a difference for years to come.
weíve done that while responding to some of the biggest threats to the
health and economic wellbeing of our nation, arguably, since World War II.
The team that has done all of that, they have been some of the best people I've
ever had the privilege of working with, and they are well placed to take us
forward as we continue to focus on our economic recovery with one of the
strongest economies in the world.
They are also a team who are incredibly well placed to contest the next
election. In fact, I am not leaving because I believe we canít win the election,
but because I believe we can and will, and we need a fresh set of shoulders for
I know there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to
what the so called ďrealĒ reason was. I can tell you that what I am sharing
today is it.
The only interesting angle that you will find is that after going on six years of
some big challenges I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we
can, for as long as we can, and then itís time.
And for me, itís time.
I intend to remain the Member for
Mount Albert through till April. This will give
me a bit of time in the electorate before I depart and also spare them and the
country a by-election.
Beyond that, I have no plan, no next steps. All I know is that whatever I do, I
will try and find ways to keep working for New Zealand and that I am looking
forward to spending time with my family once again. Arguably, they are the ones that
have sacrificed the most out of all of us. And so to Neve, Mum is looking forward to being there when you start school this
And to Clarke, letís finally get married.
As for the next
Labour leader, the caucus has seven days to ascertain whether
one individual holds more than two-thirds of the caucus support.
Caucus has agreed today that a vote will occur in three days' time on Sunday the
22nd of January. If a leader is successfully elected, I will issue my
resignation soon after to the Governor-General, and a new Prime Minister will be
If no one is able to garner this level of support within caucus, the leadership
contest will go to the wider membership.
My opportunity to thank the many people I need to will likely come in April
when I depart Parliament, 15 years after having been sworn in.
Till then, I see my role to help the Labour Party, who I consider to be my family,
navigate this next phase; and then, to leave the next colleague who takes on
this role, all the space they need to make their mark.
For my part, I want to finish with a simple thank you to New Zealanders for
giving me this opportunity to serve, and to take on what has and will always be
the greatest role of my life.
I hope in return I leave behind a belief that you can be kind, but strong; empathetic, but decisive;
optimistic, but focused; that you can be your own kind of leader -- one that knows when itís time to go.
Page Updated: 1/20/23
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