Moira Coatsworth has resigned as President of the Labour Party and will stand down in mid-December.

Ms Coatsworth confirmed she had formally resigned and the party would elect a new President by postal ballot in mid-February to work with Andrew Little on making any changes required after the party's post-election review.

She had earlier said she did not expect to stay on as President after holding the position for 3.5 years - working with four different leaders in quick succession - Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little.

Names which have been mentioned as possible contenders include Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett and academic Nigel Haworth, Labour's current policy director. Mr Leggett has previously expressed an interest, but his enthusiasm has reportedly waned.


Ms Coatsworth said the timing was appropriate given the party had a new leader and the review of the party following its abysmal 25 per cent election result was due to report back at the end of December.

"My priorities were to have the leadership process completed and the review on track. Both of those are in place."

She said having the handover now rather than waiting until the November annual conference would mean her successor could be in place in time to deal with the review's outcomes. "The people who implement that plan should be those who develop it."

Ms Coatsworth oversaw significant changes in the party including the change to the new system for electing a leader which gives the party membership and union a vote. Prior to that the leader was chosen by caucus alone. The impact of that change is significant - in the two leadership contests since then neither of the eventual victors, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little, have been the caucus top pick.

However she and Labour's party machinery have come under fire from some close to the party, including former President Mike Williams, for neglecting basics such as fundraising and getting bogged down on side issues such as the quota for women.

Asked if she believed the criticism was valid, Ms Coatsworth said it had been a challenging time for the party but she was confident new leader Andrew Little would be able to take the party forward.