TODAY |

'My time is up' - Teary Nikki Kaye reflects on retirement decision

From stepping up to deputy leader to announcing her retirement in less than two months, National's Nikki Kaye says today's decision to quit politics at the election is "the best thing for me".

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The Auckland Central MP announced her intention to retire at the next election. Source: 1 NEWS

The Auckland Central MP's retirement became public just hours before new National leader Judith Collins was set to reveal the party's reshuffle following Todd Muller's resignation from the role on Tuesday. 

Fifty-three days prior he, with Nikki Kaye at his side, had rolled Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett. 

"I didn't believe Simon could win so I was very focused on trying to save as many MPs as possible," Ms Kaye said today.

"I couldn't have predicted what occurred with Todd. The timing of my retirement is not ideal but I will be working so hard for the National Party to ensure they get over the line."

Ms Collins take over National's top spot on Tuesday night, but Ms Kaye said she was not leaving because of the new leader.

"She would make a formidable Prime Minister and I will campaign for her and I will campaign for the party and I hope that we get a National Government," Ms Kaye said. 

She said she made up her mind when she walked out of the caucus room on Tuesday night. 

"I've always believed you've got to step up or step out. I don't think we could have predicted the events that occurred with Todd and my love and compassion is with him. 

"For me I feel like this is the right time for the next chapter. I feel very at peace."

On what she would do after the election, Ms Kaye said it would "probably involve a swim in the sea, it may involve a bit of time on Great Barrier Island and I'll probably go fishing".

Ms Kaye said since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 "there's always been a calculation of the greatest amount of contribution I can make versus being able to live and have a life". 

"I don't look at life like I've got 40 years, I look very much on a shorter time frame. For me it made sense if the party and the country needed me to step up in a leadership role but then with the events that occurred I had to reassess that.

"It's not fair to people of Auckland Central or the party to have someone who is not 100 per cent in."

"You need to know when your time is up and in my view, my time is up."

Asked if it was an emotional decision, Ms Kaye said "of course... but it is absolutely the right thing".

"I don't want to cause a by-election, I don't want to be that person. There's never going to be a perfect time to leave. I believe I've acted with integrity and have done what I believe is right and I think my record shows that."

"I just want to say to the people of New Zealand and Auckland Central, thank you so much for the opportunity."