Collins, Reti to take on NZ leader Ardern

Ben McKay
·2-min read

New Zealand's opposition National party has chosen a new leadership team to take on re-elected Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Leader Judith Collins has been given the nod from her depleted caucus to continue in the role, with Shane Reti joining her on the ticket as deputy.

The pair were elected unopposed, which Ms Collins said was a sign of unity and positivity for the party's future as it begins another three years in opposition.

"That's a great start. We've gone through a grueling campaign and Dr Shane was there for much of that," she said.

"We worked very, very well together ... caucus has decided that it is really important that everyone works together."

National was reduced to 33 MPs in the heavy election defeat on October 17, down from 56 at the 2017 poll.

Dr Reti, 57, is a Harvard-educated former GP based in the Northland city of Whangarei.

The softly-spoken and widely respected Maori MP was promoted to health spokesman during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he wanted to be a "safe pair of hands, a trusted pair of hands, a hardworking pair of hands" in the mould of John Key's long-time deputy Bill English.

Unlike Mr English, who became prime minister in 2016 before losing to Ms Ardern, Dr Reti said he had no plans to replace Ms Collins - who he called his "dream leader".

"Several weeks ago some of my colleagues came to me and said 'would you consider putting yourself forward'," he said.

"It's a privilege, an absolute privilege to have the mandate of caucus, to work with Judith and to advance us towards 2023.

"She's got the skills. She's got compassion. She's got all the attributes that New Zealand would want in a prime minister."

Ms Collins hopes to announce her new frontbench on Wednesday.

New Zealand's 53rd parliament will be officially opened on November 25 and 26.