Simon Bridges leaving politics

By Will Trafford

National MP and former leader Simon Bridges (Ngāti Maniapoto) is retiring from politics after 15 years and will leave Parliament in coming weeks.

Bridges is National's finance spokesperson and MP for Tauranga. He first entered Parliament in 2008, beating the incumbent, Winston Peters.

In a press release Bridges said he was 'excited' about spending more time with his family and exploring commercial opportunities.

“More important to me than being a politician or a businessman, I’m a partner to Natalie and dad to Emlyn, Harry, and Jemima. This week my oldest two children turn 10 and 8 years old, and I want to be able to give them the best of me.”

Bridges was leader of National and the Opposition from February 2018 to May 2020, before being overthrown by Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller who himself lasted just 53 days in the role before standing down due to mental health concerns.

Under former prime minister John Key and then Bill English, Bridges held cabinet portfolios including labour, energy and resources, transport, economic development, communications, and associate climate and fiinance.

Bridges, as Transport Minister, opens a cycle route in Palmerston North in 2015 / Axel Wilke

Bridges, as transport minister, opens a cycle route in Palmerston North in 2015 / Axel Wilke

“It’s been a privilege to be MP for Tauranga since 2008, a senior minister and Leader of the opposition. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it but it’s time,” Mr Bridges says.

“I will formally hand in my resignation to the Speaker in the coming weeks.

In 2021 Bridges penned a memoir entitled National Identity where he detailed his struggle understanding his place in Te Ao Māori and the National Party, saying he had sometimes felt 'Too Māori to be Pākeha, too Pākeha to be Māori'.

In 2021 Bridges penned the book 'National Identity' documenting among other things his struggles with understanding his place in Te Ao Māori / Harper Collins

In 2021 Bridges penned the book 'National Identity' documenting among other things his struggles with understanding his place in Te Ao Māori / Harper Collins

A 30-year member of the National party, Bridges credited Christopher Luxon for turning its fortunes around after historic defeat in the 2020 general election under then-leader Judith Collins.

“For the first time in a while, National is in a good place under Chris Luxon’s leadership with momentum heading into the next election.”

“I have every confidence in National to win the election.” Bridges said.