Simon Bridges is National's new leader, while Paula Bennett has retained the deputy's role. The pair emerged from today's caucus vote with wide grins after sealing the leadership.

20180227SimonBridgesSimon Bridges has the accent of New Zealand's future. Get used to it

Bridges said it was an "enormous privilege" to replace Bill English.

"My focus as leader will be ensuring we build on those policies to improve the lives of New Zealanders," he said.

"Our caucus has an incredible depth of talent and abundant energy which is why we continue to enjoy so much support. New Zealanders believe in our vision for New Zealand and in our team.

"My job as leader will be to hold the Jacinda Ardern-Winston Peters coalition to account.

Bridges replaces Bill English, who resigned on February 13. He will leave Parliament this week, after two stints as National's leader and 10 months as prime minister after Sir John Key quit.

Judith Collins was the first to announce she would run for leader, followed by Amy Adams, Simon Bridges, Mark Mitchell and Steven Joyce.

A quick look at Simon Bridges  – aged 41

  • POLITICS: MP for Tauranga, first elected in 2008 replacing National MP Bob Clarkson. Former Minister of Economic Development, Transport, Energy, Labour, Communications and former Leader of the House. Joined Young Nationals aged 16. Stood a deputy leader in 2016 against Paula Bennett.
  • WORK: Previously Crown Prosecutor in Tauranga.
  • FAMILY: Raised in Te Atatu, West Auckland, the youngest of six children. Father was a Baptist minister, mother was a primary school teacher. Ngati Maniopoto. Met his wife, Natalie, at Oxford University. Three children, two boys and a daughter who was born in December.
  • EDUCATION: Former head boy at Rutherford High, where former Labour minister Chris Carter was one of his teachers. BA and LLB (Hons) from Auckland University, Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University.
  • VOTING: Voted against same sex marriage but says now the law is working well and would not change it. Voted against first reading of euthanasia bill.
  • OTHER: Likes drumming. Tamaki MP Simon O’Connor is his brother-in-law.

Simon Bridges has said:


  • “My focus as Leader will be ensuring we build on those policies to improve the lives of New Zealanders.
  • 
“Our caucus has an incredible depth of talent and abundant energy which is why we continue to enjoy so much support. New Zealanders believe in our vision for New Zealand and in our team.
  • 
“My job as Leader will be to hold the Jacinda Ardern-Winston Peters coalition to account.

  • “Their Government is big on lofty intentions, but struggling to turn that into real gains for New Zealanders.
  • 
“That’s why we will continue to present an ambitious and strong alternative Government, heading into 2020."



The first challenge for Bridges will be to unify the caucus after the intense two-weeks leadership contest.

That will be done partly through a re-allocation of roles in a reshuffle, which can be expected as early s this week.

All leadership contenders can expect to have prominent roles in the new lineup.

The biggest issue will be who gets finance, held for the past year by Steven Joyce.

Bridges will be straight into their work - appearing in Parliament at 2pm today to lead National's questions to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Performance in the House is not considered the most important part of the leader's role but it is crucial to maintaining morale in the party.

After 27 years in Parliament, Bill English will deliver his valedictory address on Thursday.

English took over the leadership for a second time, after the sudden resignation in late 2016 of successful Prime Minister John Key who won three consecutive elections.

National was the highest polling party at the 2017 election – 44.4 per cent compared to Labour's 36.9 per cent – but failed to get a fourth term because New Zealand First elected to form a coalition with Labour.

The National caucus met today behind closed doors to select the new leader, who required the support of at least 29 of the party's 56 MPs. The actual voting numbers are not revealed to caucus.

Each candidate presented a final five-minute pitch to their colleagues at today's meeting.

End of an era

Today's outcome spells the end of the John Key and Bill English era – an era of unprecedented high popularity for National, including three terms in power from 2008-2017.

Bill English arrived at Parliament earlier today - for his last few hours in the job - keeping tight-lipped about the process to replace him.

He plans to pack up his office, go to a temporary office and be out of Parliament by the end of the week.

He would not make a prediction or say who he was voting for. But he said the new leader needed to be "patient".

Caucus had handled the process of selecting a new leader well, English said.

"They have been civil, they have been respectful, they have gone about it competently and that is a great start for a new leader."

(Source: NZ Herald,

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