Another politician has announced they will leave Parliament at the election – but this time it’s an MP from the red, not blue, side of the House

Labour list MP Raymond Huo will retire from politics at this year’s election, saying the country’s Covid-19 lockdown helped him to decide his family should come first.

Huo announced his decision in a statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying while he had submitted his nomination form to run again, the lockdown had “enabled me to spend more time with my family and reflect on my political career”.

“For too long my family has been secondary and the recent lockdown provided an opportunity for me to reflect on my future.”

Huo first entered Parliament through Labour’s list at the 2008 election, becoming the party’s first Chinese-born MP, before losing his seat in 2014.

However, Jacinda Ardern’s 2017 victory in the Mt Albert by-election allowed him to rejoin the caucus ahead of that year’s election.

Huo said one highlight of his political career was helping to establish New Zealand Chinese Language Week, while he had also enjoyed chairing Parliament’s Justice Select Committee as it held hearings on the End of Life Choice Bill.

However, his chairmanship of the committee led to controversy last year, when Huo recused himself from an inquiry into foreign interference over a perceived conflict of interest.

Raymond Huo’s retirement statement mentioned Naisi Chen as a potential successor for Labour. Photo: Tim Murphy.

China expert Anne-Marie Brady was initially blocked from making a submission after all four Labour committee members voted against allowing her to appear.

Brady’s ‘Magic Weapons’ paper named Huo as someone who “works very closely with PRC representatives in New Zealand” and had connections to the United Front, a Chinese government department that promotes the CCP’s values at home and with the Chinese diaspora.

She said Huo made the decision to translate Ardern’s famous “Let’s do this” slogan to a Chinese phrase that literally means “roll up your sleeves and work hard” — a quote from Chinese Premier Xi Jinping (Huo has denied Brady’s allegations).

While Huo initially defended the committee’s decision to prevent the academic from appearing before it, he subsequently stepped aside in a move he said was his personal preference.

Huo said he was proud to be leaving politics with a new Chinese candidate – Naisi Chen, running in Botany – gaining a strong Labour list position and “a real chance of entering Parliament after the election”.

‘Magic Weapons’ also named Chen as someone with “close United Front connections”, including her previous role as president of the New Zealand Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

Sam Sachdeva is Newsroom's national affairs editor, covering foreign affairs and trade, housing, and other issues of national significance.

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