The Labour Party has announced a reshuffle of its caucus this morning following the departure of MPs David Shearer and Phil Goff.

The party has also created a new portfolio, called New Economy, which will be held by leader Andrew Little.

David Parker has taken Shearer's foreign affairs portfolio and Michael Wood, who won Goff's Mt Roskill seat, will be Labour's spokesman for consumer affairs, ethnic communities and revenue.

Shearer announced his resignation from Parliament this week after he was appointed to head the United Nations mission in South Sudan. Goff left Parliament in October to become Mayor of Auckland.

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Chris Hipkins will relinquish the senior whip position to focus his energy on the education portfolio. He will take over the tertiary education role, which was held by departing New Lynn MP David Cunliffe, who is leaving Parliament to do consultancy work next year.

Little said education was a crucial area for Labour and the party would be increasing its pressure on the Government on education issues.

Education Minister Hekia Parata is due to retire next year and the portfolio could change hands in Prime Minister Bill English's reshuffle on Sunday.

"[Hipkins] will almost certainly be up against a new education minister, I suspect, by Monday. So he needs to be able to go hammer and tongs and get the message out there that we can do better in education."

Little said education was a battle ground area after disappointing PISA results this year and National's proposal to overhaul the school funding system.

He said Parker was Shearer's pick to replace him as Foreign Affairs spokesman, and as a senior MP was widely respected and brought "intellectual grunt" to a portfolio that needed it.

"In addition to that, he's well acquainted with Saudi Arabia now," Little quipped, referring to Parker's attacks on Foreign Minister Murray McCully over the agri hub in Saudia Arabia.

Kris Faafoi would pick up the whip's job and would also be whip if Labour went into Government after 2017, a role Little said was a pathway into Cabinet.

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"Both Chris Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni [Junior Whip] can expect to be Cabinet ministers in the next Labour-led Government and putting Kris Faafoi into the chief whip's role now gives him time to get into that role."

Stuart Nash was picking up economic aspects of Cunliffe's portfolios and Little, Grant Robertson, Nash, and David Clark would work together as the economic team.

"We will be working on what I am calling the 'New Economy' area as we talk about and develop our plans for the real challenge we as a country face which is future wealth creation, so we can sustain our standard of living, make sure jobs are there for people and the investment in their skills and training is made."

He said the caucus changes would help "sharpen Labour's focus on some core areas". The team he would take to the next election would be "working as hard as ever to show New Zealanders Labour has a plan for the future".

"I am underlining how important this is by creating the New Economy portfolio," Little said. "Labour is committed to growing wealth in the economy through greater innovation and productivity."

In other changes, Clare Curran will take on the ICT role and move into Labour's shadow Cabinet.

Nash will also take the state-owned enterprises portfolio previously held by Clayton Cosgrove. Nash will also be the new spokesman for Innovation and science and for research and development.

Iain Lees-Galloway is Labour's new defence spokesman, a role previously held by Goff. Megan Woods will become state services spokeswoman.

Michael Wood will take on consumer affairs, revenue and ethnic communities, which Little said reflected the diverse population in the Mt Roskill electorate.

"It is, as Sir Geoffrey Palmer described it, a truly polyglot part of the country and Michael Wood is probably the most polyglot among us."

Trevor Mallard and Ruth Dyson are tagged to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker if Labour goes into Government.

Little said he was happy with the work other MPs were doing in areas such as housing and law and order so major changes were not warranted.

"I didn't see the need for wholesale change but it is enough to fill the responsibilities that are left vacant but also give a signal - a very important signal - in terms of the 'new economy' portfolio that we are taking the issue of future wealth creation very seriously."