Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern has announced he will retire from politics at the next election.
Ardern, who once drove a tractor up Parliament’s steps, said after 16 years it was time to retire in order to spend more time with his family and return to full time work on his farm.
“Family and farming is where my heart lies.”
Ardern said it had been a “privilege” to serve his electorate, saying he entered politics because he was passionate about representing rural New Zealanders and ensuring they had a voice in Wellington.
“As Chair of the Primary Production Select Committee, Chair of National’s agriculture caucus, and through my work on a number of other select committees, I have worked on policies that have helped drive New Zealand’s economic recovery,” he said.
“These have assisted our farming communities and the towns and businesses that rely so heavily on the success of our primary industries.”
Ardern was first elected in a by-election in 1998.
I have fond memories of going up to Taranaki for a few days and campaigning in Stratford for Shane during the by-election. Sadly one of the roads I was given to door knock was the one with the nurses’ residences for the local hospital – which was closing. Didn’t get the best responses, but was a fun campaign.
Shane has been a great advocate for rural New Zealand, and will be interesting to see who comes forward to contest the seat.
This brings the number of announced National retirements to eight – Chris Tremain, Chris Auchinvole, Kate Wilkinson, Katrina Shanks, Paul Hutchison, Phil Heatley, Cam Calder and now Shane Ardern. While each individual departure is sad, the opportunity for National to rejuvenate is significant. The contrast to Labour is significant as their MPs who entered in the 1980s refuse to leave.