Metiria Turei was forced to resign after she admitting lying as a 23-year-old to survive as a single mother. Her admission triggered debate ahead of the general election.
New Zealand's political landscape faced a further shake up on Wednesday, six weeks ahead of a general election, as the co-leader of the Green Party quit following her admission of welfare and electoral fraud.
Greens co-leader Metiria Turei resigned an hour before the release of an opinion poll showing a one-third slump in support for her party to 8.3 percent.
Turei had defied political and media pressure to resign for more than three weeks since she first revealed wrongfully claiming a benefit to help support her baby while studying for a law degree in the early 1990s.
"I did not have enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table. And so, like many – but not all – people faced with that choice, I lied to survive," Turei wrote at the time in a Guardian opinion piece.
Leadership change boosts Labour party
The Greens upheaval came as the main opposition Labour Party received a significant boost a week after dumping Andrew Little in favour of 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern.
The Labour Party, which has the Greens as a coalition partner, benefited from its own leadership shakeup rising nine points to 33.1 percent, while support for Ardern as potential prime minister jumped 17.6 percent to 26.3 percent, just behind incumbent Bill English on 27.7 percent.
English's centre-right National Party, which leads the ruling coalition, remained the most popular party in a Newshub poll on a steady 44.4 percent.
New Zealand First overtook the Greens as the third most popular party on 9.2 percent and remained the likely kingmakers in a coalition government.
Turei's admission, which she said was intended to highlight the plight of beneficiaries, at first boosted the Greens in the polls. But the tide turned when further instances of fraud emerged including her enrolment at a false address to vote for a friend in the 1993 election.
Turei had insisted as late as Tuesday that she would stay as co-leader until the election even if the Greens plummeted in the polls.
But as Newshub prepared to release its damning figures the 47-year-old, five-term MP stepped aside.