How Judith Collins' Papakura electorate reacted to National Party leadership drama

Judith Collins spawned one of the biggest political stories of the year on Wednesday night when she announced MP Simon Bridges had been demoted, as rumours swirled around a looming challenge to her leadership of the National Party.

Bridges, who was leader himself as recently as last year, has been stripped of all his portfolios following an allegation he made a remark of a sexual nature to colleague Jacqui Dean in 2017.

But Collins' announcement riled Bridges, who called it "desperate", along with members of the National Party and she was ousted as leader during a crisis meeting on Thursday morning.

Her deputy Dr Shane Reti is now interim leader, with one of Mark Mitchell and Chris Luxon set to be announced as the new leader next week.

But what do those in Collins' electorate of Papakura make of all the drama? Newshub took to the streets on Thursday to speak to her constituents before the announcement she'd lost the top job.

Unfortunately for her, she didn't find great support in her hometown. Most believed her time as leader of the Opposition was up.

"Not too flash," one man said of her tenure.

"Terrible... she doesn't seem to be a leader," said another local, adding that she hoped Collins lost the job.

A third agreed: "I don't like her as a woman… They [National] have got to do something, 'cause I won't vote for them while she's in power."

Collins demoted Bridges after an allegation he made a comment of a sexual nature to fellow MP Jacqui Dean five years ago.
Collins demoted Bridges after an allegation he made a comment of a sexual nature to fellow MP Jacqui Dean five years ago. Photo credit: Newshub.

But when it came to Bridges, the man speculated to be plotting a coup before the announcement, it wasn't entirely clear who was the preferable option.

"[Collins] is not very good," one man told Newshub. "[Bridges] is waiting in the wings. He'd be worth another try."

"She'll have a chance [to stay on as leader], I think she'll be good at it too, it'd be lovely if she does," said another woman. "[Bridges] is alright. He's pretty good too, but I think Collins is better."

Despite a turbulent period as National leader, she retained the support of some loyal constituents as their MP. Which is just as well, as she announced her intention to stand in Papakura at the next election.

"Judith's a lovely woman," one man said. "She won't stay as leader, but a lovely woman and she'll get the highest percentage [of votes] for Papakura."

Another local said he "always found her very efficient as an MP, and she's done a good job on the portfolios".

"It's a pity really that she hasn't had the same momentum with the leadership - it was the same with Jim McClay, who was very good as a 2IC but didn't quite make it as a leader. 

"I'm not quite sure whether Luxon's ready, but he's probably the man to take over."