New Zealand's National Party chooses indigenous Maori leader

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First elected to Parliament in 2008, Simon Bridges is the MP for Tauranga and is the National party's first Maori leader.

In the last National-led Government, Bridges held several ministerial portfolios including Labour, Energy, Transport, Communications, Economic Development and Leader of the House.

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

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

"It's a part of what makes me, and I hope Maori New Zealanders see that and are excited about that", he said.

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

He said said he was "humbled" by the support of his colleagues, and acknowledged the other contenders, saying he had no doubt they could also have done the job of leader.

Santa Barbara County communities evacuated ahead of this week's storm
Crews were seen on working hurriedly on Wednesday to clear as much debris as possible ahead of the incoming rain. Precipitation early on Friday may be strong enough to trigger debris flows.

"That's why we will continue to present an ambitious and strong alternative government, heading into 2020 (polls)".

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

"I would like to commend Amy, Steven, Judith and Mark for putting themselves forward, and our colleagues for the constructive way we have handled this important decision".

Bridges replaces former Prime Minister Bill English, 56, who announced earlier this month that he was quitting politics.

He was also pleased Paula Bennett will continue on as deputy leader which would provide National with a "talented and experienced" leadership team.

He said as deputy Ms Bennett brings great experience and ability to draw people together.

"Our renewed focus on 2020 begins now and I can't wait to get to work".