Scoring points during Parliamentary debate won't overly concern Labour's new deputy leader.

Rather, Jacinda Ardern said she wanted to represent younger generations' desire for "pay-it-forward" politics - action on issues like climate change and housing.

"They are not just voters who look at what they are experiencing in the here-and-now, they are looking at the pay-it-forward politics - the action we take on things that will affect generations to come," said Ardern, 36.

Housing affordability and rising rents were weighing heavily on younger people, she said.

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"I spoke to a group of senior students a couple of weeks ago and asked them how many anticipated they would be able to buy a home without the help of their parents. Not one hand went up. There were over 400 young people in that room."

Labour's current deputy leader Annette King announced yesterday she would step down from the position and retire from politics at September's general election.

Labour MPs will elect a deputy next Tuesday, and Ardern stressed she was speaking only as a candidate. However, the strong backing of Little and King means she is all but assured the position.

Soon after the announcement Health Minister Jonathan Coleman - who frequently clashed with King in Parliament's question time - challenged Ardern, tweeting her to say if she "really backs herself" then she would demand the health portfolio held by King.

Prime Minister Bill English told reporters Ardern was "untested".

Labour Party deputy leader Annette King has announced she will step down from the position, and retire from politics at the next election. Herald on Sunday Photograph by Mark Mitchell
Labour Party deputy leader Annette King has announced she will step down from the position, and retire from politics at the next election. Herald on Sunday Photograph by Mark Mitchell

In the frequent commentary on Ardern's leadership credentials some have questioned whether she has made life hard enough for the Government MPs in her portfolios.

"Gathering scalps in Parliament is not my measure of success as a politician," Ardern told the Herald, saying it was wrong to gloat about achievements while in opposition.

"I've helped develop a child poverty package which if implemented would make a bigger difference to children in poverty than anything the Government has done...but that will never feel like an achievement until it is real."

On English's comment, Ardern said "until you are in the role you are always untested".

In a 500-word Facebook post on why he was backing Ardern, Little said her most impressive ability was to make politics "accessible and engaging".

"At a time when many talk of political apathy rising, and we look around the world to the US and Europe, where reactionary politics dominates, Jacinda - perhaps more than any other MP across the House - sparks a light in people and encourages unity."

Ardern recently bought a home in Mt Albert with her partner Clarke Gayford, and is now the MP for Mt Albert after winning Saturday's byelection.

King last week rejected any suggestion she would be replaced as deputy by Ardern. Yesterday, she said the decision to step down was "absolutely my decision".

"I've been 30 years in the place, 10 elections, eight leaders. I think the time was right for me to make the decision before the election.

"There has been a lot of comment, and I think some of the comment is right - I think Jacinda Ardern is ready to be the deputy, she will make a very good deputy. She is the next generation."