Sue Moroney has been awarded the front bench slot left empty by the resignation of Darren Hughes and has taken on his education portfolio.

Labour leader Phil Goff announced the mini-shuffle this morning, giving Sue Moroney responsibility for the primary and secondary schooling areas as well as the early childhood portofilio she already held.

She moves from 14 to 12 in the caucus rankings - leapfrogging Shane Jones who remains at 13.

Mr Goff considers his top 12 to be his front bench and said Ms Moroney's elevation was in recognition of the importance of the education portfolio.

First term MP David Shearer - who came into Parliament after winning the Mt Albert by-election - has taken on the tertiary education portfolio in addition to his research, science and technology role.

Mr Goff made him acting education spokesman during the period in which Mr Hughes was stood down, prior to his resignation.

Old hand Rick Barker was elected uncontested by caucus to the position of senior whip, a nod to his experience in the role and the desire for stability in the eight months before the election. He was previously a senior Government whip. He will stand down from his role as assistant Speaker to fulfil the whip's role.

Mr Goff said he would nominate Ross Robertson to take on the Speaker position in his lieu. Mr Goff said the junior whip, Steve Chadwick, had not nominated herself and Mr Barker's experience was valued.