Bill English would have had a 'competitive' chance to beat Jacinda Ardern in 2020

Bill English has revealed his decision to vacate the National leadership had nothing to do with his own political relevancy going forward, saying he would have had a "competitive" chance to beat Jacinda Ardern in 2020.

"We'd certainly be aiming to win [in the 2020 general election]," Mr English said from the Beehive in Wellington this morning.

"Staying on would mean being totally committed to that, and I have no doubt that if I was totally committed to it I'd have the support of the caucus.

"So murmurings and speculation didn't have any influence on my decision."   

He decided to leave during a relaxing period over Christmas with his family, without the impending worries of cabinet he had faced for the past nine years.

Mr English said he reasons for not stepping down straight after the election was concerns over the unfamiliar transition to the opposition role for his party.

"As a leader I wanted to make sure, what was a big change for my team of MPs and staff, that we got on with the job, make sure that we got organised as an opposition," Mr English said.

"Almost one in two New Zealanders had voted for us so we needed to reflect their concerns about the government.

"Then over the summer had a bit of time to thing about it, and then once you've decided to go I think it's always actually better to go. Otherwise it's bad for the group of people you're meant to be leading."

Mr English nevertheless admitted he did waver "backwards and forwards a bit" on the decision.

"There's always a reason to stay," he said.

"Politics, there's all this energy in it. Sometimes it's a bit negative but generally it really keeps you going, keeps you interested, there's a lot happening, there's a lot of momentum.

"For political reasons it'd be good to stick around, have a crack at this government because I think they're going to run into some real problems over the next couple of years.

"But in the end, as i said yesterday, it was a personal decision, not a political one, and I'm ready to go, looking forward to a new start with my family for whom politics have been their whole lives and we want to change that."

Mr English will leave the National leadership, and Parliament entirely on February 27.

He has not revealed who he will be voting for as next National leader.

The outgoing National leader spoke to 1 NEWS' Jack Tame about the tough decision process on leaving politics. Source: 1 NEWS

Oxfam still waiting to hear from Fiji's Lau islands as Gita moves west

Oxfam says it is waiting for radio contact from Fiji's Ono-i-Vau and Vatoa islands after Cyclone Gita knocked out communications yesterday in order to determine what assistance is needed, if any.

Gita largely missed Fiji, tracking to the west instead, but some assistance may still be required, Oxfam's Jane Foster said.

"At this stage we're waiting for feedback from the local government authorities who had issued the evacuation orders," Ms Foster told TVNZ1's Breakfast.

Joanna Bourke boarded up her house and endured the storm by herself. Source: Seven Sharp

"The population of those southern islands would have taken shelter."

Ms Foster said lessons had been learned in the islands from the destructive Cyclone Winston in 2016, which killed dozens of people, and more people had heeded official warnings this time around

"Many thousands of people actually used the evacuation centres," she said.

Many residents in the Pacific nation documented the extreme weather event. Source: 1 NEWS

Meanwhile, people in Tonga are assessing damage and beginning to clean up after Gita hit there overnight Monday.

Jane Foster said Oxfam is still waiting for contact to be re-established with two of Fiji's southern Lau islands, after the edge of Gita brushed them yesterday. Source: Breakfast



Dame Jenny Shipley, Sir Richard Hadlee promote Heart Foundation appeal as numbers with heart disease jump

Former prime minister Dame Jenny Shipley and cricket great Sir Richard Hadlee are among Kiwis featuring in a campaign to help the Heart Foundation fund more life-saving research into heart disease.

Seven Sharp reported the number of people living with heart disease in New Zealand has gone up from 172,000 to 186,000 in just one year.

And surprisingly, it's an increase across nearly all age groups.

So an advertisement has been made to get support for the Heart Foundation's appeal.

It's a cause that's close to the hearts of the people taking part in the ad.

Dame Jenny told the programme she's just 66.

"I must have been 48 when I had my heart attack. So it was just not long after I'd finished being prime minister," she said.

"For weeks I had been going to the doctor and was told I had tennis elbow.

"The Heart Foundation walks with you after you've had an event, but the Heart Foundation raises funds to invest in people," Dame Jenny said.

Sir Richard, 67, said the foundation uses funds "to train cardiologists and gain information, and to save lives basically". 

Radio host Sela Alo, 45, also took part in the ad.

"I'm glad that I'm here to show that it's not an old man, old woman disease, that anyone can get it," he said.

Also among those involved in the ad campaign are Celeste Esera and her six-year-old daughter Ava who are both affected by heart disease.

The Heart Foundation has decided to tackle the problem with an ad campaign. Source: Seven Sharp