Christopher Luxon is "excited, fired up and ready to go" ahead of taking on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Parliament for the first time - her fifth Opposition leader.
There are high hopes for Luxon when he goes up against Ardern for the first time in the House next Tuesday, after his predecessors often failed to compete with the Labour leader known for her effective communication.
"Looking forward to it," Luxon told reporters in Auckland on Friday. "I'll be taking the case. I'm excited, fired up and ready to go."
Ardern has so far gone up against four Opposition leaders since becoming Prime Minister in 2017: Sir Bill English, Simon Bridges, Todd Muller and Judith Collins. Luxon will be her fifth.
English stood down in February 2018 after National's narrow election defeat. The caucus elected Bridges who kept the party numbers up, but struggled against Ardern as preferred Prime Minister. He was replaced by Muller, who only lasted 53 days in the job.
Bridges was fiery in the House as Opposition leader but often got kicked out for rowing with the Speaker. Muller's first time going up against Ardern was described by one senior political reporter as "boring", and Collins was often outshined by ACT leader David Seymour.
Ardern was forced to apologise in Parliament last month after referring to Seymour as "the other leader of the Opposition".
"I've never particularly done things differently depending on who the person is and that's probably a good thing given there's been five," Ardern told reporters this week when asked about Luxon's rise.
Collins led National to a crushing election defeat in 2020, which saw the caucus reduced from 56 to 33. It also meant fewer questions for National in Parliament and more for ACT, which may have contributed to Seymour's rise in popularity.
Collins struggled to compete with Ardern in the popularity stakes, and the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll was seen as the final blow - twice as many Kiwis preferred Seymour to Collins.
Collins' leadership ended in scandal. She was ousted by the caucus in a vote of no confidence last week after announcing she had demoted her rival Bridges in a late-night press release without first consulting the caucus.
Her departure made way for Luxon, the first-term MP and former CEO of Air New Zealand, who was elected National leader by the caucus on Tuesday with Nicola Willis as his deputy.
Luxon announced on Thursday that Bridges would be National's spokesperson for finance and infrastructure and would be third-ranked in the caucus after withdrawing his own leadership bid and letting Luxon take the reigns unopposed.
The wider caucus reshuffle is expected in the coming days.
"There's great roles for all 33 MPs within our caucus line-up. We have amazing talent. We have to get the right people hooked up to the right challenge and take it to the Government," Luxon said on Friday.
"But I think come Monday, I'd encourage you to take our line up and put it up against the Government's, and say, 'Who do you want to be the minister?'"
Bridges isn't without controversy. He was long rumoured to be eyeing up the leadership after Collins struggled in the polls.
The leadership battle kicked off last week after Collins released a statement late last Wednesday night announcing she had demoted Bridges over an allegation of "serious misconduct".
It was National MP Jacqui Dean who, about five years ago, complained to then-Deputy Prime Minister Bill English about comments Bridges made in front of her and other colleagues.
Dean later said she was "caught up in a political power-play", and revealed to the Otago Daily Times that she informed Collins weeks ago about the comments Bridges made.
Bridges said last Thursday it was "desperate" of Collins to release the statement about him. Later that day, Collins was voted out as leader by the caucus over the way she handled the situation.
Nevertheless, Luxon has promised "very important" roles for all of the former leaders currently in Parliament, including Bridges, Collins and Muller.
"They have a unique set of skills we need to tap into," Luxon said on Tuesday. "We'll set the baggage aside."