John Key has announced that he will resign as prime minister of New Zealand, after eight years in the job, citing family reasons.
Mr. Key, a popular leader, said it was a personal decision, and later denied media reports his wife of 32 years, Bronagh, had given him an ultimatum.
He said he would not be seeking a fourth term in the 2017 election.
Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English is likely to take over until the National party holds a caucus to choose a new leader.
Mr. Key made the surprise announcement during his weekly press conference. He set a date of 12 December for the formal resignation.
Mr. Key, who was formerly at Merrill Lynch as a foreign exchange dealer, ended nine years of Labour Party rule in 2008 when he ousted Helen Clark as prime minister.
He won a third term for the National Party at elections in September 2014.
Green Party co-leader, Meteria Turei also wished him well.
Known by the local media as “Teflon John” because very little controversy has stuck to him during his time in office, Mr. Key is credited with steering New Zealand through the 2008 global economic crisis and out of recession.
He has sought to build closer ties with the US, taking a leading role in supporting President Barack Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a 12 country trade deal covering 40% of the world economy.
However Donald Trump’s recent victory in the US has derailed that process, with his announcement the US would be quitting the TPP on his first day in office in January.
Former Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott played on their two countries’ cricketing rivalry to say Mr. Key had enjoyed a “fine innings”.