Independent MP Chris Carter has decided to step aside from the Labour candidacy for Te Atatu for the 2011 election.

Mr Carter had earlier indicated that he had strong local support for keeping his nomination, but today released a statement saying he had withdrawn.

"In good conscience I cannot campaign on behalf of a leader I have criticised," Mr Carter said.

"It would not be fair to him or ethical of me. I hold this view while at the same believing the Labour Party, with its values of social democracy and concern for the welfare of ordinary people, is the best party to serve the interests of New Zealanders."

Mr Carter was expelled from the Labour caucus in July for a bungled attempt to undermine Phil Goff's leadership. He is set to appear before the national council on Monday to answer to disciplinary action that could see him from the party altogether.

He has been on sick leave for the past two months and returned to parliament two weeks ago, but has yet to front media.

Mr Goff said he was pleased with Mr Carter's decision.

"This was the only realistic decision he could have made. Labour will soon be selecting a new candidate for Te Atatu. We have moved on."

He said the issue of Mr Carter's membership with the party was a matter for the New Zealand council.

"I've dealt with Chris Carter and his behaviour. New Zealanders are more worried about their family budget and jobs than this sideshow."

It is understood there are several people, including list MPs Phil Twyford and Darien Fenton, who are interested in contesting the Te Atatu ticket.

Mr Carter said he still supported the Labour Party, and wanted to remain a member of the party.

He stood by his criticism of Mr Goff's leadership, and said he was not properly supported by the party leadership.

"I wish to state clearly that I am a loyal supporter of the Labour Party, sharing its values and aspirations. I have been a party member for most of my adult life, and my strong preference is to remain so. I will be very disappointed if the Labour Party chooses to end my membership. Should the current Labour Party Leadership decide to do so I will continue to vote in Parliament with Labour and regard myself as an Independent Labour MP.

"I recognise that the way in which I expressed my criticisms of the current leadership has caused distress for my partner, my family, and indeed many members and supporters of the Labour Party who have stood by me and share my party's values. The way I handed it was not how I would usually behave, which I regret.

"While the manner of my criticism was not appropriate I still stand by what I said because I believe Labour would do better at next year's election under a fresh leader.

"Of course there are some things I wish I had handled differently. At the same time I also regret that, during the pressures I have faced in the past year, I did not receive the support, advice or guidance I expected from my party leadership. However I want to look forward to focussing on continuing to serve the people of my electorate and it is for the Labour caucus to resolve the leadership question.

He said he intended to stay as the Te Atatu MP until the 2011 election.

"Constituency work is the foundation of any political career and I have found Te Atatu and West Auckland a very rewarding community to work for. The part of the job of being an MP that I have enjoyed the most is the constituency work, dealing with everything from immigration issues to homelessness. There is not a street in my electorate that I have not visited and could not relate a story about - from colourful characters to vicious dogs!

"I particularly want to thank the Te Atatu Labour Electorate Committee for their amazing support, particularly their unwavering endorsement of my candidacy. I understand I still remain the only nominee for selection as a Labour candidate and that is a measure of my strong local support. I am sure that we will see a number of applications in the next 24 hours.

"I really appreciate and value that support from my local team and the many constituents who have urged me to remain as MP.

"I am immensely proud of what I have achieved over the last 14 years, in particular during the period from 2002-2007, when I served as Minister of Conservation. After hard-fought battles for each application 17 more Marine Reserves were established in New Zealand while I was Minister. I also approved significant land purchases through the Nature Heritage Fund, which added over 360,000 hectares were added to the Conservation Estate. These included sites like Kaikoura Island in the Hauraki Gulf, Molesworth Station (the country's largest farm), and land adjacent to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery in Auckland.

"And, on a more personal level, the work I undertook to help so many local people with their problems and issues ranks among the most satisfying experiences of my political career. I made sure I visited every school regularly, and visited people in their homes almost every week. Achieving results for the community, such as the upgrade of Waitakere Hospital, and protecting the remaining Harbourview land in Te Atatu Peninsula, and the development of the Hobsonville Point housing estate are all projects I can look back on with satisfaction.

"I look forward to seeing Labour returned to the Treasury benches in the near future."