Collins first of leadership challengers

Judith Collins has launched her National Party leadership campaign with a swing at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying she talks about herself ''and her feelings'' too much.

Judith Collins
Judith Collins
In addition to Ms Collins, Selwyn MP Amy Adams and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges confirmed yesterday they wanted to succeed former prime minister Bill English, who on Tuesday said he would be leaving Parliament in two weeks.

Ms Collins was the first to step up in the morning, followed a few hours later by Mr Bridges, who said he had ''strong support'' in the caucus.

''I think I offer the right blend of generational change and experience,'' the 41-year-old former transport minister said.

Ms Adams made her announcement on Parliament's lawn in the afternoon, flanked by fellow MPs Nikki Kaye, Chris Bishop and Maggie Barry, saying ''it is absolutely my ambition and goal that if I am leader we will win in 2020''.

National Party veteran Steven Joyce, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and former health minister Jonathan Coleman were considering their positions yesterday.

Amy Adams.
Amy Adams.
Auckland Central MP Ms Kaye - the youngest among the speculated candidates for the role - ruled herself out yesterday before showing up to support Ms Adams.

Ms Collins said Ms Ardern was ''a formidable opponent ... and people have underestimated her at their peril''.

''But the main thing with Jacinda Ardern, it seems to me, is that it's all about her.

''What we need to do is to be very focused on the people, on New Zealanders and what is being delivered or not delivered to them.

''I think she talks a lot about herself and her feelings. I think what she really should be doing is focused on the people.''

The Papakura MP said others might have a problem taking on Ms Ardern out of concern of a backlash because she was a young woman and pregnant.

''I have been pregnant, running a law firm and studying as well.

Simon Bridges.
Simon Bridges.
''As a young mum I understand exactly how tough it is to do that role and undertake a very difficult and tough role. But she understands that, too.

''But that's not the point. That is not the role she's asked New Zealanders to support her for.

''She has asked them to make her and to keep her as Prime Minister of New Zealand. And that is the role I would hold her to account for.''

Ms Collins also put in a pitch to her caucus colleagues, saying this was the first chance in more than a decade to have a ''real'' say on the leadership.

She said what was needed was somebody who had real experience in Opposition and had been effective at it.

''We need to have very decisiveness and strong leadership in Opposition, and that's something I can bring.''

Paula Bennett ruled out a challenge, but wanted to keep her deputy leadership.

-By Claire Trevett

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