Cabinet reshuffle: Brownlee gets Foreign Affairs, Kaye gets Education

Prime Minister Bill English has replaced the portfolios of two departing ministers, Hekia Parata and Murray McCully.

Nikki Kaye will replace Hekia Parata as Education Minister.

Gerry Brownlee will replace Murray McCully as Foreign Affairs Minister.

Mark Mitchell has been promoted to Cabinet and will become the new Defence Minister, while Nathan Guy will take over the Civil Defence portfolio.

Nicky Wagner will take over Mr Brownlee's Christchurch reconstruction portfolio.

Mr McCully and Ms Parata will attend their final cabinet meeting on May 1, and the new ministers will be sworn in on the same day.

They have both previously announced that they will not be standing for re-election in September.

"As education minister, Ms Parata has changed the conversation in our schools and driven sharp rises in achievement for all our students, particularly Māori and Pasifika," Mr English said.

"As foreign affairs minister, Mr McCully has improved existing relationships and developed new ones, all the while running a truly independent foreign policy for New Zealand.

"Neither will be easily replaced but in Nikki Kaye and Gerry Brownlee we have two very well qualified successors."

Ms Kaye was earmarked as the replacement for outgoing minister Hekia Parata during Mr English's first cabinet reshuffle but the decision was made to delay her appointment until she settled back into work after receiving treatment for breast cancer.

Mr English particularly wanted to pay tribute to Mr Brownlee for his "untiring" efforts to put Christchurch back on its feet after the 2011 earthquakes.

He will be blunt but diplomatic when he needs to be as New Zealand's next foreign minister, Mr English says.

"Gerry has built up a very significant set of relationships with our partners through his role as Defence Minister and has done a very good job of that in a relatively short time," Mr English said.

"I think in Christchurch he's shown an ability to be blunt when he needs to be but also diplomatic when he needs to be, and also very effective."

"Having worked alongside him as associate minister for several years his successor, Ms Wagner, is ideally placed to replace him."

In further changes, Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith has been stripped of responsibility for the Crown land programme, which will be transferred to Social Housing Minister Amy Adams.

Ms Adams will also have a closer involvement in the Government's house building programme.

Other changes include Simon Bridges' appointment as Leader of the House and Michael Woodhouse as deputy.

Senior whip Tim Macindoe and local government and environment select committee chairman Scott Simpson have been promoted as ministers outside cabinet as Customs Minister and Statistics Minister respectively.

The new ministers will be sworn in next Tuesday and the new Cabinet will hold its first meeting on May 8.