Chester Borrows always maintained that 12 years in Parliament was his target and yesterday he remained true to his word, announcing he would be retiring next year.

Mr Borrows won the Whanganui seat for National in 2005, beating Labour incumbent Jill Pettis. Over the next two elections he steadily increased his majority.

He had two tilts at the job prior to that - once when he was still a serving police officer and the second time when he studying for a law degree at Victoria University.

He told the Chronicle he hankered for a ministerial position and he was promoted Minister for Courts, including responsibilities as Associate Minister of Justice and Associate Minister for Social Development in 2008-11 even though it was a post outside Cabinet.

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He turns 60 next year and said he'd rather go now than stay put and hear people saying it was time he stepped down.

Mr Borrows said there was a lot of legislative successes he could highlight and also a lot of work he did in the electorate at a personal level that helped individuals "and is stuff you can't talk about publicly".

A stand out was pushing through legislation in the area of youth justice.

"I feel privileged to have had that opportunity and there are things I can look and say I can put my name on that."

But he still hopes teenagers up to age 17 are dealt with in the youth justice system rather than being dealt with in the adult court "and see them chucked in jail".

"I look at the all the people I've seen put and jail and thought how many could I have prevented if I'd taken a more responsible attitude in dealing with them moving down a restorative path."

And he's also proud of his push to have DNA samples taken off everyone involved in a crime as a matter of course.

"Take the Parnell Panther (Mark Stephens). We could have saved so many rape victims if we'd found a DNA match at the scene of those crimes. That was my biggest achievement and probably saved more victims than any other piece of legislation."

And Mr Borrows can tick off some wins he achieved for Whanganui city.

"One was saving Wanganui Collegiate when the Minister of Education was arguing against it. Securing the money for the Sarjeant Gallery is another high point and the last thing I want to do is get Government funding to roof the velodrome."

Recalling his win in 2005 he said it was about turning up to more events than Mrs Pettis.

"It didn't matter where you lived in the electorate. It was a matter of whether you turned up or not. But she was busy in Parliament when I was able to get out and about."

There had been difficult times and advocating for the "h" in Whanganui was one of them.

A number of his own party members were upset with his stance but now didn't mention it.

He has forged a safe seat for National and expects a good candidate to improve on that in 2017.

1892 was the last time a New Zealand Government won three elections in a row and while he said that's definitely a possibility next year he said the party shouldn't be complacent.

Not being one of the Cabinet "stars" Mr Borrows said backbenchers only made the news when "they got in a bit of strife".

"This year I've been on Tv more than I was last year probably because I've apparently driven over somebody's foot and find myself on charges for it. So it's got nothing to do with how well you're doing in your job.

"But I'm not all snot-nosed because I didn't get a certain job. Everyone wants to be a Cabinet Minister and I was a Minister for three years so that's pretty cool."

As to his future, Mr Borrows said he'd like to work broadly in the justice area here or overseas:

"I always enjoyed the courtroom and advocacy work so there's a lot of scope for future employment."

But he said in his spare time - "a new concept for me" - he wants to get a lot better at painting.

"I realise that's all about what artists call 'brush-miles' so I intend being a lot more serious about that."