It's a bittersweet farewell for East Coast MP Anne Tolley as she steps down from her role to focus on family and her aspirations to be Speaker of the House.

After serving 14 years as the MP for the East Coast, Tolley has decided the time is right to hand over her beloved electorate to a new candidate.

"I have loved this job, this is a fabulous electorate, full of wonderful, hardworking, kind-hearted people," she said.

"But, it's time for someone younger to come in and for me to step back and spend some time with my husband."


While the East Coast MP, Tolley said she had achieved some things she was really proud of, but admitted it was a lonely job with little time for family.

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The role involves a lot of travelling and with Parliament sitting 31 weeks a year and the East Coast being a geographically large electorate, Tolley has spent a lot of time on the road.

While the job may come with some sacrifices, she is proud of the work she has done to improve the lives of those living on the East Coast and names the new Whakatāne Hospital, the Tauranga Eastern Link expressway, the Motu Bridge replacement and, while it was hard at the time, the reorganisation of schools in Kawerau as her career highlights.

"The safety of the Whakatāne Hospital was one of the biggest issues for the East Coast while I was MP," Tolley said.

"There was serious health implications for the coast if it were not to be redeveloped, people living up the coast and in Ōpotiki would face serious difficulties accessing healthcare while Whakatāne could not continue to develop if it did not have a good health service. I spoke with [former] Minister of Health Tony Ryall and got it moved up the list."

The reorganisation of schools in Kawerau was very "painful" for Tolley and was met with great community resistance, but although it was a difficult process, she now looks at it as a career highlight.

"Sometimes you just have to push on because you know you're doing the right thing," she said.


"It was very tough and painful at times, but I don't think anyone would want to go back to how it was. The high school out there now is just amazing."

Although she has done much in her day-to-day work to improve life in the electorate, Tolley is leaving with some unfinished business.

The fact Whakatāne is yet to get a second bridge and the harbour redevelopment is yet to happen at Ōpotiki still rankle.

Despite this, she said she would try her best not to give unsolicited advice to whoever took her place as the National MP for East Coast – although the offer to help or provide advice would be there if needed.

Tolley does not yet know who will be stepping into her shoes but knows of several "local people" who are interested.

Looking forward, she is hoping to step into a new role as Speaker of the House if National is successful in the upcoming elections.

She currently serves as Deputy Speaker and is enjoying the role immensely.

"I am developing a code of conduct as I am particularly worried about some of the harassment and bullying which takes place in Parliament."

She may be stepping down as East Coast MP but Tolley is adamant Ōhope will remain home.

"My husband and I will need to spend some more time in Wellington if I do become Speaker of the House but Ōhope is a pretty special place and it will always be home, no matter what happens."