Key Points:

New National Party leader John Key says his party will always believe in one standard of citizenship, but under his leadership it will acknowledge the place of Maori in society.

In speech notes for an address outlining his vision for New Zealand, Mr Key distanced himself from predecessor Don Brash's stance on race issues while trying to maintain its "one law for all stance".

"The National Party will always believe in one standard of citizenship and I want to make this very clear to you today," Mr Key told a National Party lunch in Auckland.

>> John Key's speaking notes
>> Our deputy political editor on the Key speech

"Yet within that standard of citizenship we should celebrate the cultural, religious and ethnic differences we all bring to New Zealand.

"Maori are the tangata whenua of this country, and we have nothing to fear by acknowledging that. It is part of what makes New Zealand unique."

Dr Brash restored National's popularity with his Orewa speech, saying Maori were unfairly benefiting from positive discrimination.

He also attracted criticism for creating division in New Zealand.

Dr Brash angered Maori again recently with comments which implied that they no longer existed as an identifiable race.

Mr Key took a different approach.

"I welcome the Maori renaissance, and some of the great initiatives like the kohanga reo movement which have come from Maori, for Maori."

He also said National would address the growing under-class.

"It is in the interests of no one, and the shame of us all, that an under-class has been allowed to develop in New Zealand," he said.

"The under-class is represented by all ethnic backgrounds, and when I talk about lifting people's sights, I am talking about all New Zealanders."

Mr Key said he believed a society should be judged not only on how it helps its most vulnerable, but how many vulnerable people it created and made them dependent on the state.

"My mission is to raise people's sights, to be fearless and imaginative in policies that encourage people to set their aspirations higher."

Mr Key also spoke on environmental issues saying every political party, besides the Greens, had taken too long to put protection of the environment to the forefront of their thinking.

"In the National Party we have taken steps to do this, and we will be taking more steps."