Former New Zealand PM Bill English retires

Bill English decided during his summer vacation that he wanted a break from politics. PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (AFP) - Former New Zealand prime minister Bill English announced his retirement on Tuesday (Feb 13) after failing to retain office in last year's "Jacinda-mania" general election.

English said that after 27 years in Parliament he decided during his summer vacation that he wanted a break from politics.

"This is more about myself and my family having spent most of my adult life, all of their lives, with the demands of politics," the 56-year-old told reporters.

"I want the opportunity to start again on a different life."

A staunchly Catholic conservative, English served as prime minister for just under a year before being replaced by centre-left leader Jacinda Ardern in October last year.

After eight years as finance minister, he was seen as a dour replacement for the charismatic John Key but almost derailed the "Jacinda-mania" bandwagon in last year's vote.

He outpolled Ardern in the popular vote but she forged an alliance with the Greens and maverick lawmaker Winston Peters to form a coalition government.

English said he felt it was time for his National Party for anoint a new team to take to the next election, although he did not nominate a preferred successor.

Ardern paid tribute to him.

"He is a man of clear convictions who has always had a genuine concern for the well-being of New Zealanders," she said.

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