New National leader Simon Bridges has revealed a petrolhead side to himself, a legacy of his upbringing in West Auckland.

After winning the leadership contest, Bridges promised to let New Zealanders get to know him better. In an interview with the NZ Herald, he said his most annoying habit was probably his textured New Zealand accent, which he put down to his upbringing in West Auckland.

That same background also meant he had some petrolhead tendencies, although he had converted to electric cars when he was Transport Minister. While he did not describe himself as a petrolhead, he said some in his family were and recalled going to the Auckland Car Show as a child. "I do like cars."

His pet hate was slow drivers who sped up when they got to a passing lane. "I think that is a terrible habit and it's got to be one of the worst things you see out and about."


Bridges delivered some of the Roads of National Significance – and was also proud of delivering the 110km/h speed limit on some of them.

His dream car was a Tesla – but he also hankered for a Maserati. At the moment he was restricted to "a people mover Peugeot" and an electric car as a back-up. "We're a big family. You need two cars."

Bridges will be National's first Maori leader and his deputy Paula Bennett is also Maori. Bridges said he had learned quite a lot about his Ngati Maniapoto whakapapa and had been to his home marae near Waitomo.

While his grandmother had grown up on the marae, his father had not and Bridges himself had grown up in Te Atatu, as one of six children.

"I suppose I'm like a lot of Maori New Zealanders. I understand it now, it's something I'm interested in. It's an important part of me. But the truth is in my background it wasn't a prominent part of my background."

He said he grew up in a middle New Zealand household. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother stayed home with the six children.

"You wouldn't say financially it was privileged but we got good values, it was a great environment to grow up in. And we always came together at dinner time. It was a nurturing, strong family environment.

"In the context of modern New Zealand with all the gadgets and toys and things, it perhaps wasn't privileged. But I wouldn't say we went without. It was a good upbringing that I'm deeply grateful to my parents for."