Prime Minister John Key has praised Paula Bennett as "a big asset" for National, but will not go as far as tipping her to succeed him.
Mrs Bennett is one of several MPs who are seen as potential leaders of the National Party when Mr Key eventually stands down.
The ninth-ranked MP is seeking a significant new portfolio when Cabinet is revealed next week.
Asked at a press conference today if she could lead National one day, Mr Key said "I hope so", before adding that there were many contenders.
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"I think one of the big advantages we've got now ... is a caucus of 61 people. There's lot of ability there and I think she's got a huge amount of ability but there are also plenty of other people."
Mr Key reiterated that Mrs Bennett would not continue as Social Development Minister, and she was seeking a finance-related position.
"After six years she's done an outstanding job there and I think demonstrated to New Zealanders that she's a very competent minister.
"I don't think you'd need to be a rocket scientist to work out that she's a big asset for National, and she's keen to broaden out her responsibilities into a more financially orientated role."
He said National would be in a position to announce ministerial portfolios "very early next week", and ministers would be sworn in a few days later.