Bill English said this morning his decision to vacate the National leadership does not necessarily have a bearing on Paula Bennett's position as deputy leader of the party.
It is understood Ms Bennett is not going for leadership but wants to try to stay on as deputy.
However, he did not go so far as to say Ms Bennett's position was secure.
"I stepped down as leader, she hasn't stepped down as deputy leader," Mr English said on TVNZ1's Breakfast.
"She'll make her own decisions about whether she does that. That's up to her.
"Certainly me stepping down doesn't have any automatic impact on her."
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.