A National MP who recently spoke in the media about being gay has announced he will leave Parliament.

First-term list MP Paul Foster-Bell faced a challenge to remain National's Wellington Central candidate, with a former senior adviser to John Key putting her name in the ring.

Today, he confirmed he would leave Parliament at September's general election.

"Serving as a Member of Parliament has been a distinct honour, but now is the right time for me to pursue other opportunities," Foster-Bell said.

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"I will be working hard to ensure National remains in Government, and will be backing our Wellington Central candidate. This is a great city and it deserves an effective MP in a Government that gets results."

In December, Foster-Bell talked about being gay in an interview with TVNZ's Q&A programme, saying he wanted to speak up after comments by Brian Tamaki, being particularly concerned for young gay people growing up in provincial New Zealand.

"It's actually throwing petrol on a fire when you send out a message that gay people are very similar to murderers, they're sinners, and they're creating natural disasters. You and I can dismiss that as intelligent adults as just being ludicrous, but for those kids, that's actually a really hurtful thing at an already difficult time in their life," he told the television programme.

Before entering politics Foster-Bell was a diplomat, including postings to Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Last year Foster-Bell faced accusations of poor management after reportedly having 12 staff leave over a period of three years. His relatively high travel and accommodation bill also came under scrutiny.