Topic: Politics

National leadership contenders throw their hats in the ring

By Talisa Kupenga

The gates are open and the race is on for the toughest job in politics as contenders for the National Party Leadership throw their hats in the ring. Judith 'Crusher' Collins from the old guard and Ngāti Maniapoto's self-proclaimed generational change Simon Bridges the first to put in their bids.

The Māori from National tipped to enter the leadership race has thrown his hat in the ring.

Simon Bridges says "I'm standing for leader. I'm focussed on Simon Bridges becoming the leader of the National Party.”

He’ll take on Judith Collins while other potential contenders were yet to announce their stance.

"I think I offer the right blend of both generational change but also experience," he says.

Bridges also believes being Māori could broaden his appeal.

"I understand my whakapapa. As a minister, professionally I've spent a lot of time with iwi and iwi groups in wider things... I hope I can be someone who can be a draw card to Māori and to a wide cross section of New Zealanders."

But Minister for Whānau Ora  Peeni Henare Disagrees.

“I'd say Bridges' bridge is faulty given his track record over the past ten years and I struggle to see how he has brought any benefits to Māori." 

The Deputy Prime Minister remains unfazed.

“"The National Party really needs someone that's intelligent, popular, seriously good on their feet, charismatic and a kind of gentle hearted person and last time they had something like that it was 25-years ago."

Paula Bennett will not contest the leadership but would like to remain Deputy. Bridges says he could work with Bennett.

This afternoon Amy Adams also entered the race, while Mark Mitchell and Jonathan Coleman were yet to make their move. The new leader is expected to be announced February 27.