Two Māori seek Deputy Prime Minister role

By Heta Gardiner

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have ruled themselves out of the race for Prime Minister but are seeking the deputy Prime Minister position to Bill English.

“I certainly don't want to put my name forward as the leader, but I do want to put my hand up for the deputy leader,” says Bennett.

Both will enter the race ready to contend. But one thing they both agree on is working under Bill English.

“He certainly knows that I would like to support him as leader of the National Party,” says Bennett.

“I will be voting for Bill English as the leader,” says Bridges.

In her first term as a politician, Paula Bennett was given the Minister of Social Development portfolio. After handling that role with confidence, she was soon touted as a future leader of the party.

Simon Bridges also entered parliament with a bang, getting in by rolling Winston Peters in Tauranga and removing NZ First from Parliament all together in 2008.

“I have something to offer. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity. I want to put myself forward,” says Bennett.

“I am putting my name forward to be the change and rejuvenation part,” says Bridges.  

Hekia Parata has also put her weight behind the Finance Minister Bill English as the leader but hasn't indicated if she will support one of the two Māori candidates as his deputy.

“I haven’t decided,of” says Parata.

John Key will officially hand in his resignation to the Governor General on December 12. It is expected that a new leader will be announced that same day.

Bridges is of Ngāti Maniapoto descent and first entered Parliament in 2008 when he won the Tauranga seat. He is currently the Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister for Transport.

Paul bennet has iwi affiliation to Tainui. In 2008 Bennett was successful in winning the Waitakere seat. She is currently the Minister for Climate Change Issues, Minister for Social Housing, and Minister of State Services.