Māori leaders 'proud' of new National leader Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges admits the National Party has never been a natural home for Māori voters.

As of Tuesday he's the party's first Māori leader, creating a historic leadership together with deputy Paula Bennett.

He said he hopes Māori are proud of him, but acknowledged that as a group they have "traditionally voted Labour".

It's understandable when the legacy of the National Party includes former leader Don Brash's infamous Orewa speech, which resulted in literal mud-slinging at Waitangi.

As Prime Minister, John Key also got his fair share of shoving and eventually decided to stop attending, leaving Steven Joyce to deal with sex toys to the face.

As a result, Bill English never went to Waitangi as a leader and called it an embarrassment.  

Mr Bridges hasn't committed to returning, telling media he hasn't considered it yet. 

"I don't think it's a relationship that needs rebuilding."

He already has support from high-profile Māori politicians, including Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox. 

"People have debated, [saying] 'well actually start walking the walk and then we might be proud of you' - but I'm proud of him as he is, the person that he's been," she told Newshub. 

"He's come up through the ranks, he's smart, he's intelligent, he's articulate and he's Māori. Good on him."

She said she'd be happy to teach Mr Bridges Te Reo if he wants.

Former National MP Tau Henare added that it's a historic moment for the party. 

"For the first time ever, you've got a leader who's of Māori descent and a deputy leader who's of Māori descent. Big ups to the caucus for that."

Being Māori isn't the only thing that binds the leading team. Both Mr Bridges and Ms Bennett are westies - but there's been a mixed reaction to the pair among other west Aucklanders.

"He needs to be a lot more humble," one woman said of National's new leader. 

"It's good to get Māori out there," said another.

One woman said Mr Bridges is "all right" but she would have preferred Steven Joyce as leader.