Bill English said he looked forward to leading the country in a statement to the press today.

The National Party caucus has just elected me as new leader of the party and Paula Bennett as the new deputy leader.

I want to thank my colleagues for the trust they have shown in me and for the constructive and civil manner in which they have debated over and chosen the new leadership team.

I welcome Paula as deputy. I am proud to have a smart, accomplished and energetic woman as National's first female deputy leader and New Zealand's second female deputy prime minister. She brings with her the political experience of winning and holding marginal seats, implementing world-leading welfare reforms and an inspiring journey from teenage solo mum to deputy prime minister.

I also want to thank Jonathan Coleman, Judith Collins and Simon Bridges for a contest that focused on the challenges that lie ahead for our country and the kind of government needed to meet them.

I want to thank the outgoing prime minister for his service to this country; his strong and positive leadership has guided our country through recession and natural disaster.

Because of his unwavering confidence and optimism, New Zealand is a better, more confident country.

I also want to acknowledge and thank my wife Mary and our children, Luke, Thomas, Maria, Rory, Bart and Xavier. We have together seen the best and worst of politics. Their inspiration and support has brought us all here.

Can I say how excited I am to be leading a strong team of MPs full of ideas about how we can make New Zealand an even better place to live, work and raise a family. In the coming months and years we will focus on building the roads, public transport, schools and houses needed to support a strong economy and growing population.

We will also focus on better incomes for our households, safer communities and smarter government support for the most vulnerable.

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

I will build on the international recognition earned by John Key for New Zealand's increasingly distinctive place in the global community as a successful economy open to trade, investment and immigration.

The National Party has always valued enterprise, hard work and the rewards that go with success. We recognise the aspiration of all New Zealanders to flourish.

We support those who take risks to create new jobs and new businesses and equally we support those who courageously leave behind welfare dependency to move into work or who honestly face the impact of violence in their homes so their children can grow up safe and whole. Those decisions are each of significant economic and social benefits for our communities.

By supporting families, businesses, volunteers, parents, iwi, unions and churches Government can do a better job of changing lives.

Last Thursday at a women's leadership event I heard a poem performed by Selina Tusitala Marsh in which she said "lead and dig up the diamonds around you". That is our task together.