New Zealand First MP Barbara Stewart will quit Parliament at the election, saying she has found being in Parliament difficult after the death of her husband.

Stewart has been in Parliament for 12 years and is the party's health spokeswoman.

Her husband, Gordon, died on January 31 after a battle with cancer.

"There's quite a lot of work to do around that, including downsizing the house," she said.


"I don't believe that in Parliament you can be a bird with a broken wing.

"I'm hurting a bit at the moment. And Parliament is one of those environments where you have to be very focused on the job and full steam ahead.

"At this point in time I believe it is best for me to stop, reassess, refocus and find myself."

She said her husband's death was "not an easy experience" and she had to nurse him while he was in hospice.

A former teacher from the Waikato, Stewart came into Parliament in 2002.

She said the personal highlight of her time in Parliament was having a private member's bill pulled from the ballot.

Her bill to reduce the size of Parliament from 120 to 100 MPs passed its first reading in 2006 but was later defeated.

Stewart is one of just three women in the New Zealand First caucus, along with Tracey Martin and Ria Bond.