Simon Bridges 'burned' by National, Todd Muller elected new leader

By Te Ao - Māori News

It's official - 'Pax Simonicus' is over. The first Māori leader and co-leader combination of the National Party is out.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye were elected in an emergency caucus meeting held today.

In his first statement as National Party leader Muller said, "There is no Team Todd, there is no Team Nikki, or anyone else - there is only team National.

"National has always been a coalition of city and country, business and community, conservatives and liberals - National is the party for all New Zealanders."

New National Party leadership announced today, Todd Muller as leader and Nikki Kaye as his deputy - Photo / File

Simon Bridges (Ngāti Maniapoto) faced a number of unpopular opinion polls in recent times, and speculation around his time as the leader of the opposition. 

On Monday night a Newshub-Reid Research poll showed National trailed Labour by 26%, followed by a TVNZ-Colmar-Brunton poll which had National sitting on 29%. 

Both polls had Bridges register 4.5% and 5% respectively as prefered Prime Minister.  

Bridges, the 43-year-old Tauranga MP confirmed a challenge to his leadership had been made earlier this week, with Muller later confirming he had put his hat in the ring for the leadership of the largest party in parliament. Paula Bennett (Tainui) also faced a challenge to the deputy leader role, a role she had held since 2016, which saw her also hold the role of Deputy Prime Minister under Bill English and John Key.

The political future of both Bridges and Bennett is unclear at this stage, however, Bennett had already indicated she would not stand in the Upper Harbour seat she held since 2014, to concentrate on campaign management ahead of the September 19 general election. The question remains if Muller and Kaye can swing the party back into national favour.