Whanganui MP Harete Hipango says National Party is united behind its new leader after a five-way race for the job.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges was elected the party's new leader by the caucus on Tuesday after the resignation of former Prime Minister Bill English this month.

Ms Hipango will not say who her preference out of the five was, citing caucus confidentiality.

Read more: Whanganui reacts as National Party leader Bill English resigns


"However people voted, we are all on board. There's no hesitation that he's experienced and that he's strong."

Former Whanganui MP and Chronicle columnist Chester Borrows said Mr Bridges was someone with good values and good experience and expected him to stay on "until the election and beyond".

But he said it would be tough for him.

"History would say that someone coming in [after an election loss] rarely goes on to win or become Prime Minister, I think the last person to do that was Rob Muldoon," Mr Borrows said.

"It's going to be tough because Jacinda Ardern is really popular and I think National are finding out what it was like for Labour when we had John Key batting for us."

Whanganui electorate chairman Neil Walker said Mr Bridges was a smart tactician and knew how Government and Parliament worked.

"Politics is a game like anything and you have to know how to play chess to win."

He said Mr Bridges needed to lead his own version of the party to be successful.


"He's got to focus forward rather than focus back because it's not going to be the fourth term of the last Government, it's going to the first term of a new Government whenever National come back into power."

Mr Walker believed there was no clear preference among the party membership.

There will be a reshuffle of portfolios among the National's MPs over the coming weeks and Ms Hipango said it was good to hear Mr Bridges say the 10 new MPs in the National Party caucus had something to offer.

"We may see some changes but all I'm after is being able to contribute."