Key, Cunliffe set date for final departures in move to preserve Parliament's balance
Former Prime Minister John Key will quit Parliament on April 14 after delivering his farewell speech next week.
The timing will allow Parliament to avoid a by-election in his Helensville seat, which can be left vacant if he leaves within six months of the September 23 general election.
Meanwhile Labour's David Cunliffe has also announced he is leaving early, with a final day of April 23 - ensuring the relative strengths of the Government and Opposition are preserved.
In a statement released this morning, Key said it had been an "absolute honour" to serve New Zealand.
"It has been an absolute honour to serve in Parliament since 2002, as MP for Helensville, National Party Leader, and Prime Minister.
"One of the great privileges of my political career and my life was to meet so many hard-working and inspiring New Zealanders. I remain as ambitious for them, and New Zealand, as the day I entered Parliament," he said.
"I would like to thank all those who backed me and the National-led Government to build a stronger and more resilient country. We got New Zealand back on its feet, got people into jobs, got back into surplus, and tackled natural disasters."
He also thanked his family, for their support.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my wife Bronagh, and my children Stephie and Max. I absolutely could not have done this job without their ongoing love and support."
Key said he had "enormous faith" in his successor Prime Minister Bill English and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett "to provide the stability and continuity we need to build on that strength, while continuing to support those in need".
He will give his valedictory speech on March 22 and his resignation from Parliament would take effect from April 14.
Cunliffe's valedictory speech would be on April 11 with his resignation effective from April 23.
"It's an enormous privilege to serve as a Member of the New Zealand Parliament and I have loved nearly every minute of it," Cunliffe said.
"In my time as MP for Titirangi from 1999-2002, as MP for New Lynn since then; and as a Minister of the Crown, senior Opposition spokesperson and as Leader of the Opposition, I have never forgotten the reason I came into politics and the reason that I'm passionate about the Labour Party.
"I believed then and now that all New Zealanders should have a right to reach their potential, regardless of race, job or gender; and that all our people are of equal worth and deserve equal respect, security and opportunity."
"As a minister, I had a chance to do things that I hope will continue to make a difference, including helping Kiwis secure faster, cheaper telecommunications; better healthcare planning, more humane and focused immigration, better jobs in our regions, and a fairer tax system.
He said he left "knowing that the Labour Party I care about is in good heart, well-led by Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern, and with an able team of colleagues ready to make that difference for New Zealand in government".
"I've loved representing my electorate of New Lynn and the vibrant communities within it. I'm deeply grateful to my wonderful staff and members of the awesome New Lynn Labour Electorate Committee, who have stood solidly behind me through the ups and downs."
"I also want to express my deep gratitude to family and friends who have sustained and enabled me to serve during my term in Parliament.
"I'm excited about beginning a new chapter as part of the leadership team of management consulting firm Stakeholder Strategies Ltd, based in Auckland, where I'm looking forward to spending time with my sons William and Cameron, who continue to inspire me," Cunliffe said.