Farmers may have enjoyed years of National Party leaders with farming backgrounds or who are considered farmer-friendly, but what will new party leader Simon Bridges, an urban Westie, mean for rural communities?

That's the first question from Jamie Mackay, talking to Bridges on The Country today.

Asked if farmers should be worried, Bridges said he was "very farmer-friendly". His mother Ruth came off a Waihi dairy farm with about 50 cows. His sister lives on a farm near Nelson.

"As National Party leader I understand the vital role of agriculture, horticulture, farming in our economy."


Mackay asks if National is still the party for rural New Zealand, given the support from NZ First for the sector.

Bridges points out areas where he thinks NZ First is left wanting when it comes to farming, including trade and immigration policies.

Other areas touched on in the interview include how the Nats will change under Bridges and why Jacindamania is Labour's Achilles heel.

Listen to the full interview below:

The interview follows yesterday's appearance of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on The Country, in which she responded to Bridges' initial criticisms.

He had labelled the Government "weak and muddling."

Ardern told Mackay "it's certainly the role of the Opposition to hold us to account, so I expect more of that critique rather than less."

Hear that interview here.