With the Bill English's retirement from politics the race is on for the leadership of the National Party.

I earlier wrote that I thought Bill English wanted to go, but I was surprised at his timing and I thought that out of deference to his successor that he would at least wait until the hoopla around Jacinda's baby had died down so whoever came next could get a little media oxygen.

At the time of writing there are three confirmed contenders; Amy Adams, Judith Collins and Simon Bridges.

The only nominee I haven't met is Amy Adams, the MP for Selwyn since 2008 and an experienced minister in the Key/English Government where she was the Minister of Justice, Minister for Communications, Associate Minister of Finance, Minister for Courts and Social Housing, and Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand Corporation and Social Investment.


Unlike the other two contenders for the crown, Amy Adams had four MPs with her when she announced her candidacy and she appears to have more support in the National Party caucus than amongst the public at large.

As a keen observer of politics I can't think of any success the 46-year-old Amy Adams has been associated with, and the only lasting impression I have of her is that she talks so quickly it's close to gabbling.

If she does indeed turn out to have a majority behind her, the National Party will have a very big selling job.

I met Simon Bridges once at his old school, Rutherford High School, in West Auckland a few years ago.

He seemed pleasant enough but my lasting impression was of an accent so strong it almost amounted to an impediment in his speech which I found distracting.

We do have regional accents in New Zealand and Bill English was a classic example of the "Southlandic" dialect to which we became adjusted so perhaps this won't matter.

Bridges is from the right of the spectrum, is against same sex marriage and likes drilling for oil. His attitudes may be an obstacle to his success amongst the urban liberal MPs and his tussle with Winston Peters in Tauranga in 2008 will not endear him to The New Zealand First Party, still National's best chance of winning government in 2020.

In his early 40s, Bridges can argue that he amounts to the kind of generational change that might match the Labour Party.

If I had a vote I'd support Judith Collins who I've met on several occasions and who I believe is the best Corrections Minister we've had in a long time.

In her late 50s, Judith Collins knows that, unlike her rivals, she'll only get one shot at the big job so for that reason alone, she's hungrier for success than the other two and more likely to go after Jacinda.

It's quite possible that the winner in a couple of weeks will not be the person who leads National for the 2020 Election Campaign.

One drawback to National's huge 56 member caucus is that if the party slumps in the polls, as usually happens to parties which lose office, many MPs will see their careers in jeopardy and look to change the Leader again.

Two weeks ago I wrote about Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule and a couple of other National MPs getting photographed for Hawke's Bay Today while staring at sewer ponds somewhere near Waipukurau.

This caused an old friend to contact me to tell me that staring at things in the landscape was a time-honoured tradition for anyone who had nothing better to do and there is a specific word in the English Language for people who stare at canals.

Someone who does this is a gongoozler and the act of staring at a canal is to gongoozle.
I found this hard to believe but with the miracle of the internet I rapidly discovered that my friend was right and the term is thought to have arisen from two words in Lincolnshire dialect: gawn and gooze, both meaning to stare and gape.

This means that what Lawrence and his mates were up to when staring at the Central Hawke's Bay sewer ponds may be not terribly eccentric.

It might even catch on.

While sewer ponds are possibly less interesting than canals where there may be barges and narrow boats moving, there is at least one big sewer pond in Auckland that could well reward Lawrence's attention.

This is on the North Shore beside the motorway and is overlooked by a suburb officially called Unsworth Heights but universally known as "Poo View".

These ponds are home to a large bevy of swans so there is at least some action to gape at.

Given the wonderful absorbability of the English language people who stare at sewer ponds might be pongpoozlers.

Mike Williams grew up in Hawke's Bay. He is CEO of the NZ Howard League and a former Labour Party president. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.