Skills learned in Parliament will be used in the next career of Whangarei MP Phil Heatley when he retires from politics at next year's general election.

Mr Heatley said yesterday he would retire from politics at the next election, 15 years and five terms after first being voted into office.

The qualified engineer said he had thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of being an MP and a Cabinet minister, but at 46 felt it was time to move to the next stage of his life.

"I'm still young enough for another career," he said.


"It gives you a unique inside view on how government works, how councils work and how to work with iwi to advance their aims, and I think I can use those skills in the future."

Mr Heatley said while he would be retiring from Parliament, he would stay active in the National Party in Whangarei and support his successor, who would probably be chosen after a selection process next year.

He said it wasn't hard to make the decision after five terms and, as well as talking to his family about it, he also spoke to National deputy leader Bill English and former Northland MP John Carter, "and I always enjoy their sage advice.

"It has been an honour to serve the people of Whangarei, the place of my birth, since 1999. And I was 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.

"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."


Mrs Heatley said: "This is our place in the world and I'm looking forward to us spending far more time here together as a family."

The couple's children - Bryn, 14, Nina, 12, and Mckenzie, 8 - who have only known their father as an MP who spent much time in Wellington - are also looking forward to having more time together as a family.

National List MP Paul Foster-Bell, who grew up in Whangarei, has already announced he will seek the nomination to stand as the party's Whangarei candidate in the 2014 election.