Andrew Little says the bombshell admission that ultimately led to him stepping down as leader was a "totally human reaction" to bad poll results.

"I make no apologies for being honest about what I thought, because that is a totally human reaction. But equally I said I was determined to take this fight on," Little told Newstalk ZB tonight, hours after stepping down as leader.

In her press conference shortly after being elected leader, Jacinda Ardern said she expected Little to be on her front bench should Labour form a government after the September 23 election.

"Andrew is a phenomenal member of Parliament ... I look forward to having him as a minister in a Labour Cabinet."


And Little tonight strongly indicated he wanted to stay on as an MP, although he said discussions about his list place had not yet been held.

"It is in my blood and in my bones to go into bat for people, to fight for people, to fight the fight for justice. You don't give that up. And I'm not giving that up and if I can serve in the political system then I would look forward to the opportunity to do that, and Jacinda has said she would welcome me serving in a senior role in Parliament."

Little raised the prospect of standing down with senior colleagues last week and forewarned them about upcoming poll results, including the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll on Sunday night that put the party on just 24.1 per cent.

In an interview on that poll result, Little revealed he had raised the prospect of stepping down. The fallout from that admission effectively resulted in his decision to step down from the leadership he took up after the 2014 election.

Little is the former head of New Zealand's largest union, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), and was Labour Party president from 2009 to 2011.

He trained as a lawyer and worked as the chief counsel at EPMU. The son of National Party supporters, he was born and raised in New Plymouth. He has previously said his political views developed during the time of the 1981 Springbok tour, which he was against and his parents supported.

Little stood in New Plymouth unsuccessfully in 2011 but entered Parliament thanks to his list ranking. He contested New Plymouth again in 2014, again losing to National's Jonathan Young, and opted to be a list-only MP ahead of this year's election.

Little, 52, lives in Wellington's Island Bay with his family.

In a statement today, Ardern said she knew one thing to be true after working with the man she has replaced as leader.

"He is first and foremost loyal to Labour, and I thank him for the support he gave me to work alongside him and for his incredible work over the last few years - a sentiment caucus expressed to him also."

In her press conference she stressed Little's decision to stand aside was his alone.

"We have been in pretty constant conversation, Andrew and I - we are a pretty close team ... Andrew has had my support, he will attest to that ... I did feel humbled by the fact Andrew nominated me to be leader today."

Little told media he had thoroughly enjoyed his time as leader.

"I only have good memories. Please do not ruin that."