Labour's General Secretary Andrew Kirton is stepping down from the Labour Party this afternoon to take up a new job as head of government relations with Air New Zealand.

Kirton has been general secretary of the party since January 2016.

Earlier this year Kirton had apologised for his handling of the aftermath of allegations of sexual misconduct at a Young Labour summer camp in Waihi over summer.

Labour Party president Nigel Haworth said that was not connected to Kirton's departure from the party and he had signalled he would leave during 2018 after the election.


Haworth said Kirton was "a first class general secretary and he will be deeply missed".

"In 2016, Andrew took on the difficult and complex role as campaign manager, leading a successful, albeit extremely challenging, election campaign in 2017.

"Andrew came to me soon after the 2017 general election and indicated that he would be looking to move back into the private sector at some point in 2018. I wish Andrew all the very best in his new role.

"Andrew will remain in post until mid August, to continue with the ongoing internal Labour Party reforms."

Kirton said he left the party in good health but the Air NZ job was too good to turn down.

"I worked for Heathrow Airport in the UK, so the opportunity to get back into the industry working for such an iconic and progressive company was too good to turn down."

Newsroom had reported a young man allegedly sexually assaulted four teenagers on a drunken night at the end of the summer camp, including putting his hands down the pants of at least two.

The summer camp incidents were being investigated by Police and Labour had also appointed Wellington lawyer Maria Berryman to review the way the party handled it.


Berryman is yet to report back on that and party sources say they have not seen any of her findings, but it is expected within the next few weeks.

Berryman was also looking into processes for dealing with such complaints and to look into any historic allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour at party events.

Labour's hierarchy had failed to tell Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the incident and there were complaints about the handling and the failure to refer the issue to Police at the time.