At the age of 41, Simon Bridges pitched himself as the leader for generational change.

While he was the youngest of all five contenders (Judith Collins 59, Amy Adams, 46, Steven Joyce 54, and Mark Mitchell 49) he is not the youngest person to have taken the leadership of the party.

Bill English was aged 39 when he ousted Jenny Shipley in 2001 in his first stint in the leadership, and Jim McLay was age 38 when he ousted Rob Muldoon in the 1984. The oldest was Don Brash who was 63 when he became leader in 2003.

The average age of a National leader on assuming the role is 49.5.

Bridges is the third lawyer to become National leader.

Of National's 12 leaders, only five won elections: Sidney Holland, Keith Holyoake, Rob Muldoon, Jim Bolger and John Key.

Adam Hamilton


Aged 56 when he got the job


Former businessman

The former Reform Party leader becomes first leader of the National Party, a merger of the Reform and United parties.

Sidney Holland


Aged 47

Former businessman

Led National to its first victory in 1949 and won two more consecutive elections but resigned near the end of his third term through ill-health.

Keith Holyoake



Aged 53

Former farmer

Served a terms as Opposition leader from 1957 to 1960 then won four successive elections, 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1969. He stepped down at the start of 1972 election year to hand over to his deputy.

John Marshall


Aged 59

Former lawyer

"Gentleman John" Marshall had been leader and Prime Minister for less than a year when he was beaten by Labour's Norm Kirk. Resigned during Opposition when it became likely he was going to lose a caucus vote.

Robert Muldoon


Aged 53

Former accountant

Former Finance Minister under Holyoake, took over in Opposition, and after the death of Kirk in office, ousted the one-term Labour Government and remained Prime Minister and Finance Minister for 10 years.

Jim McLay


Aged 38

Former lawyer

Challenged Muldoon in Opposition after the Labour landslide of 1984 and beat off other contender Jim Bolger. Stepped down after being presented with letter showing majority of MPs wanted him gone. The only National leader not to face an election.

Jim Bolger


Aged 51

Former farmer

Took over from McLay in Opposition and led National to three successive election victories, including the first MMP election, in coalition with New Zealand First. Resigned as leader and Prime Minister after coup.

Jenny Shipley


Aged 45

Former teacher

Former health minister instantly became New Zealand's first woman Prime Minister by ousting Bolger after one year in coalition government. Presided over collapse of coalition after sacking Winston Peters and failed to win in 1999. Resigned in Opposition.

Bill English

Aged 39

Former farmer/ Treasury official

Took over from Shipley in Opposition after getting enough signatures on a letter calling for her to go. Led National to dismal 20.93 per cent of vote in 2002 at peak of Labour Government's popularity.

Don Brash


Aged 63

Former Reserve Bank Governor

Elected to Parliament and Opposition in 2002, announced a public challenge to English in 2003 which he won narrowly. Led National to narrow loss at 2005 election.

John Key


Aged 45

Former merchant banker

Replaced Brash when he resigned in Opposition in wake of Dirty Politics book. Led National to three consecutive election victories and formed three minority Governments with support parties. Resigned suddenly in good health and riding high in the polls.

Bill English


Aged 54

Former farmer/ Treasury official

Endorsed as leader and Prime Minister by outgoing leader John Key. Challenges by Judith Collins and Jonathan Coleman were withdrawn. Led National in 2017 to respectable result, 44.4 per cent, but failed to get fourth term when NZ First elected to go with Labour. Announced resignation two weeks ago.

Simon Bridges


Aged 41

Former lawyer

Until today was ranked No 6 and shadow leader of the House. Fought a two-week contest with four other contenders, Judith Collins, Amy Adams, Steven Joyce and Mark Mitchell, and won more than 50 per cent of caucus support on the second ballot. First Maori leader of a major party.