Whangarei MP Phil Heatley will retire from politics at the next general election, 15 years and five terms after first being voted into office.

The announcement that the long-serving MP would not seek re-election was made today, with Mr Heatley saying he had thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of being an MP and a Cabinet Minister.

"It has been an honour to serve the people of Whangarei, the place of my birth, since 1999. And I was very privileged to serve in Cabinet under Prime Minister John Key for four years," Mr Heatley said.

He was Minister of Housing from 2008 to early 2013, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture from 2008 to 2011, and Minister of Energy and Resources from 2011 to early 2013.

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"My greatest satisfaction has been getting good outcomes for local constituents, and being part of a National team that is building a stronger economy and improving the public services families rely on," Mr Heatley said.

"I am particularly proud of the legislative reforms I drove for marine farming. Growth in this industry is important for New Zealand. It was critical to better manage competing demand for coastal space and to deliver on the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement for iwi. As Housing Minister, updating the rental rules of the 1986 Residential Tenancies legislation and extending them to boarding houses was very rewarding, as was modernising the 1972 Unit Titles legislation that regulates the way apartment blocks are managed.

"It was also essential to begin social housing reforms to better involve community providers, and introduce 'reviewable tenancies' to Housing NZ, a policy that set aside the decades-long notion of a state house-for-life. And I was very pleased to develop a policy that will now see every state house insulated by the end of this year. In energy and resources I have enjoyed working with practitioners, councils, and iwi. Last year I introduced reforms to the Crown Minerals Act to promote, and not simply manage, the exploration of oil, gas, and minerals. The reforms are now in law. I am delighted the new annual block offer process I introduced for awarding oil and gas exploration permits is continuing."

He said it has been fantastic working with the people of Whangarei and her satellite towns.

"That will be my focus until the election. I thank Whangarei residents for their support and for co-opting me onto so many fascinating projects."

Mr Heatley, a qualified engineer, took Whangarei from marginal seat status to a majority of 1934 votes in his first election in 1999, which grew to reach a majority of 12,447 in 2011.

He said at 46, it's now time to move on to fresh challenges and opportunities in the private sector.