Bill English voted in as new National Party leader, promises 'the benefits of growth will be widely shared'

Bill English is officially the leader of the National Party after being voted in by his colleagues at a Caucus meeting in Parliament today.

Incoming Prime Minister Bill English says he wants to bring a positive force to his leadership. Source: 1 NEWS

Incoming prime minister Bill English has praised his deputy and addressed media for the first time. Source: 1 NEWS

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has been voted in as deputy leader of the party.

Incoming prime minister Bill English was given the floor by outgoing John Key, but declined to speak. Source: 1 NEWS

"Can I say how excited I am to be leading a strong team of MPs full of ideas about how to make New Zealand an even better place to work and to raise a family," Mr English said after the meeting today.

Mr English outlined his vision for New Zealand under his leadership.

"This will be a government supporting economic growth and ensuring that the benefits of growth are widely shared," he said.

"We recognise the aspiration of all New Zealanders to flourish.

"I believe that by supporting families, businesses, volunteers, iwi, unions and churches, government can do a better job of changing lives."

Mr English spoke about having a poem performed to him at a women's leadership conference last week by New Zealand poet Selina Tusitala Marsh

"Lead and dig up the diamonds around you. That is our task together," the poem read.

Paula Bennett said she was "honoured" with her appointment as deputy leader of National.

"To serve the National Party as the deputy leader is a great privilege and a responsibility I take very seriously," she said.

"There is no one that I would rather be standing next to and supporting than Bill English."

The change in leadership comes after Prime Minister John Key unexpectedly quit a week ago after eight years as Prime Minister.

Mr Key and Mr English will this afternoon travel to Government House where Mr Key will hand in his resignation to the Governor-General and Mr English will be officially sworn in as the new Prime Minister.

The first big challenge for Mr English will be reshuffling his Cabinet, expected to be announced as soon as tomorrow, with backbench MPs expected to put pressure on the new Prime Minister to inject new blood into Cabinet. 

Speaking earlier today Mr Key said: "It's a beautiful day and a great day for a new Prime Minister so I'll be looking forward to signing off with my Caucus colleagues as the leader.

"I know I’m passing over to tremendously good hands in the form of Bill English and Paula Bennett."