“I have been privileged to lead the Labour team for the past 20 months and I’m proud of the gains we have made in that time,” said Shearer in a press conference statement.

“But we need to do more. So the time has come for me to hand over to a new leader who can take Labour through to 2014.”

Opinion polls had previously suggested that the leader did not gain a great deal of support from Kiwis in the months that he served as Labor leader compared with current prime minister John Key, according to The Guardian.

The New Zealand Herald suggested that Labor’s next leader could be Grant Robertson or David Cunliff. Roberson said: “I’m not ruling it out, and I’m not ruling it in.”

Cunliffe also appeared to put himself in the frame, saying “I’ve made no decisions…I’ll make up my mind over the next few days.”

Shearer, a former humanitarian aid worker who previously worked in a high profile role for the United Nations and gained respect for his work in Somalia, said that he had come into politics to make a difference and said in his statement that “I believe I have done that”.