Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says David Clark's resignation as Health Minister was "his call and his judgement", and paid tribute to his work in the role.
"He's put the team first, he's put New Zealand first," she said today.
Ms Arden said he will still be considered for other Ministerial roles, but not health, if Labour were to win the next election.
Dr Clark announced his resignation earlier today. Education Minister Chris Hipkins will take over the role.
"Last week I had discussions with Dr Clark, we talked about how important the Covid-19 response was and the need for that to be our primary focus.
"Anything that acts as an unnecessary distraction to that, we just simply couldn't afford."
"He reached the conclusion his ongoing presence in the Health role was causing too much distraction to the Government's ongoing response to Covid-19. An assessment I agree with."
"David has put the interest of the team ahead of his own."
Ms Ardern thanked him for his service, adding the resignation "doesn't take away from the wider work he's done as a Minister, mental health in particular will be a real legacy of Dr David Clark".
She said she spoke to Dr Clark last week about the resignation.
"He had a very open and frank assessment of what was happening at the time."
Last week, he was criticised after pointing the blame for border blunders at Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, while Dr Bloomfield was standing nearby.
"To be clear, David Clark will not be reappointed as Health Minister next term," Ms Ardern said, if Labour were to win the next election. However, she left the door open to Dr Clark picking up other Ministerial roles post election.