National's deputy leader Paula Bennett says geography should be a factor in a leadership team but gender should not.

Bennett has said she wants to stay on as deputy leader but would not be drawn on what her chances were under the five contenders for the leadership.

The deputy leadership is also decided by a caucus vote and Bennett would not say if she was considering resigning to allow a vote or whether she would wait to be challenged.

She said she had respect for all five candidates in different ways and it made sense for the caucus to wait to see who the leader was before deciding on the deputy.


Bennett dismissed the suggestion a gender split was important.

"To quote someone quite recently, welcome to 2018. No I don't think that gender really makes a difference as far as that. I think there's a whole lot of other things which would be that kind of personality mix, the geographical.

"A complement of skills is really what you want."

She said it was a "back office" job which involved a lot of organising and she enjoyed that work, "I see myself as a strong, loyal, experienced deputy.

Steven Joyce tells Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking he would become the fifth candidate to replace Bill English.

Until former Prime Minister John Key left at the end of 2016, National was led by Key and deputy Bill English.

Bennett said a geographical mix was a factor, to ensure Auckland was represented.

Of the five contenders, Steven Joyce, Judith Collins and Mark Mitchell both live in or near Auckland while Simon Bridges is in Tauranga and Amy Adams from Canterbury.

The caucus would decide the process that would be followed, likely at today's caucus meeting.


Judith Collins has said she has spoken to people about being deputy if she was leader, but Bennett said that did not worry her.

"You have to look at the team and at the moment we don't know who the leader will be. It is a very close relationship the deputy has with the leader.

I think I've got something to offer, obviously, but I think its common sense that people want to see who the leader is and then make those sorts of decisions."

Heading into caucus, outgoing leader Bill English said the packed field showed it was a competitive caucus.

"There are a lot of people who have aspirations."

He said he was pleased it was happening in a civil manner – but would not say who he was backing.

He said it was up to his successor to decide what direction National would go in, but was sure it would be anchored in National's long-standing principles.

English said last night's One News Colmar Brunton poll had not come as a surprise as National's support dipped to 43 per cent.

He was said it was important to try and hold that polling as high as possible and Labour's increase had largely been at the expense of its support partners.

"Generally the pattern is Opposition support drops and the Government's goes up."

Other MPs going into caucus would not say who they were supporting.

Jonathan Coleman said it was in the best interests of the party to make sure it was clean contest. He had not given any consideration to whether to run for deputy.