National MP Nikki Kaye. Photo Getty
John Key's promotion of Simon Bridges, Nikki Kaye, Amy
Adams and Jonathan Coleman is designed to rejuvenate and
modernise the National Party Cabinet before next year's
He wants to mix it up in terms of ages and years of political
experience, and Mr Bridges and Ms Kaye represent the party's
The extent of the Prime Minister's reshuffle took many by
surprise, not least the two ministers whose resignations he
required, Phil Heatley and Kate Wilkinson.
They had done a good job and done nothing wrong, he said, but
it was time to make room for other talent in the Cabinet.
"They have had four years to make a great contribution. They
have been good ministers but I want to give other people a
"For National it is very important that we have constant
renewal, that there are fresh faces coming through."
It was also important for National's longevity, he said, to
have that mix of people with experience and to provide
opportunity for others.
"If I was to look back to Helen Clark's time as Prime
Minister, I don't think she renewed her Cabinet terribly well
very often, and only by necessity."
That left Labour in disarray for the past four years.
"I am very committed to making sure there is a strong breadth
and depth of talent at various different stages of their
development coming through Cabinet."
Kate Wilkinson and Mr Heatley had both been disappointed but
had pledged to remain "team players" from the backbench and
they understood his thinking.
Amy Adams and Mr Bridges, both tipped as potential leaders,
are among those who have been promoted.
Two new ministers were named: National's senior whip, Michael
Woodhouse, outside Cabinet, and Nikki Kaye straight into
Mr Woodhouse's whip's role is likely to be taken by Taupo MP
and junior whip Louise Upston when the party caucus meets
Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe is tipped to become junior
His and Ms Kaye's appointment will leave vacancies on two
select committees, education and justice and electoral.
Nick Smith has been returned to the Cabinet. He resigned last
March after the Herald revealed he had written a testimonial
in 2010 supporting a friend's ACC claim - at the time he had
been ACC Minister.
But he has not got back his old jobs, Environment and Local
He has Conservation and Housing and Mr Key indicated Dr Smith
would be assuming responsibility for housing affordability,
an issue Finance Minister Bill English has been leading, not
just state housing.
Mr Key said Dr Smith would be working with local governments
on housing affordability issues.
"He's a guy with lots of energy and ideas and he doesn't
leave too many stones unturned. I think we can see in the
housing sector him thinking right across the spectrum and
working with a lot of different ministers to get results."
David Carter is set to be elected Speaker next Thursday to
replace Lockwood Smith, who is leaving to be High
Commissioner to London.
Mr Key defended his decision to keep Education Minister Hekia
Parata in place despite the major upheavals of last year,
including class sizes and Christchurch school restructuring.
She had been in her job for only a year, he said.
She had made mistakes but she had got a lot of things right.
"I am very confident she is going to make it. There are one
or two minor issues but there is a huge amount of talent
"She has got a new chief executive [Peter Hughes], she has
got a new associate minister [Nikki Kaye], one of the big
issues would be handled by Steven Joyce, it's a new year."
Mr Joyce will take responsibility for the Novopay teacher-pay
debacle, with Mr English.
"If I were the providers of that system," said Mr Key, "I'd
be on notice."
- Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald