John Key: From PM to celebrity interviewer

John Key and Richard Branson
John Key and Richard Branson speaking in 2007 (Getty)

Former Prime Minister John Key will be before the crowds again soon in a new role - interviewing billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson at an Auckland black-tie event.

The charity speaking event is hosted by Duco and will be held at Vector Arena, with ticket prices starting at $595, for an estimated 1500 guests. Sir Richard, a British business magnate and head of the Virgin group,  is to speak on 'Challenges and Opportunities of the 21st Century'.

It will be the second time Mr Key has interviewed Sir Richard. In September 2011 they talked together on RadioLIVE.

The MC on the night will be Newshub's Samantha Hayes, but Mr Key will be asking the questions.

Duco boss David Higgins told Fairfax: "It will be fascinating to watch a world leader of the past eight years grill one of the great global entrepreneurs of modern history."

Mr Key's Helensville successor

Meanwhile in Mr Key's old Helensville electorate, West Auckland lawyer Christopher Penk has been selected to replace the former prime minister as National's candidate for the 2017 election.

Mr Penk, who has served in the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Australian Defence Force, says he knows he has big shoes to fill in the new role.

"I won't be taking anything for granted. John and National have served this area well, but I bring my own unique skills and aspirations and will be working hard over the next few months to ensure locals continue to have an effective local MP.

"This is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and it's easy to see why. We've got some of the best beaches, native forests, and of course our proximity to Auckland," Mr Penk says.

Newshub.