NEW Zealand Labour leader David Shearer is stepping down after 20 months at the party’s helm.
He made the announcement at a hastily-arranged press conference after a meeting of the Labour caucus on Thursday.
His departure comes after the party failed to make serious inroads into the popularity of John Key and his National government.
His resignation will come into effect when Labour chooses a new leader.
Mr Shearer says he feels he no longer has the full confidence of his colleagues and has failed to lift Labour from its poor poll results.
“It has been my privilege to lead the Labour Party over the last 20 months and I’m proud of the gains we’ve made in that time,” Mr Shearer said.
“But we need to do more. We haven’t had the lift that we have been wanting.
“My sense is that I no longer have the full confidence of my caucus colleagues.”
He made the announcement flanked by senior MPs – but his deputy, Grant Robertson, was noticeably absent.
Mr Shearer walked out of the room following a short statement, refusing to take questions.
Senior whip Chris Hipkins would not comment on whether there had been a leadership challenge and refused to say whether Mr Robertson has stepped down, but a Labour press secretary confirmed the deputy leadership has not changed.