Bay of Plenty National MPs make up nearly half of the top spots in new leader Judith Collins' party reshuffle today. Tauranga MP Simon Bridges was ranked fourth, Rotorua Todd McClay was ranked sixth, Bay of Plenty Todd Muller was ranked eighth, and Taupō MP Louise Upston was ranked ninth.
Bridges, who is also the party's former leader, is the fourth-highest ranked in Collins' shadow Cabinet. He retained his preferred foreign affairs portfolio and the justice portfolio.
He was ranked 17 after a reshuffle on July 2 when Muller, who ousted Bridges several weeks ago, was still the leader.
Bridges said it was never about the number and he was pleased to be given such significant roles.
He said he had been keen to dive into foreign affairs since taking on the role of leader, "and justice is a bit like coming home," the former Crown prosecutor said.
The Bay for Plenty was traditionally a strong area for the National Party and "there's no doubt this will be good for the region," he said.
"The higher people are up in the tree, the more fruit they can throw down to the bottom."
Muller bumped to eighth and was given the trade portfolio; still in the top 10 after resigning as leader on Tuesday.
McClay is now sixth, up from 11, and has been given the portfolio for economic development as well as tourism. He will also support Gerry Brownlee, chairman of National's election campaign team.
McClay said the region's front bench representation was a "real opportunity to continue to deliver for the wider Bay of Plenty".
It was an opportunity to draw attention to the needs of the region and push good policies the region could benefit from.
Upston is ninth, down one place from eighth two weeks ago and was given the portfolio for social development and social investment.
She was "enormously proud" to retain a seat on the front bench and having four members there showed "it's a significant region of New Zealand".
"It means a greater ability for us to work together across the region, and will bring a pretty loud voice to the National front bench."
Collins told media today she spoke to Muller on Wednesday and said he was "very happy" with the trade portfolio. He would be on leave for two weeks and "sounded pretty good yesterday".
Collins said she was proud to be leading "the strongest team in New Zealand politics".
"I'm particularly pleased that Simon Bridges and Todd Muller, as former leaders of the National Party, have accepted my invitation to take up senior roles on my front bench."