Michael Wood, Nicola Willis quizzed on whether they want Labour, National's top jobs

  • 29/07/2022

Michael Wood was named as a potential future contender for the Labour leadership in a column by NZ Herald's Audrey Young this week.

Marking nearly five years since Jacinda Ardern took on Labour's top role, the piece considered who may succeed her

However, there is no suggestion currently that Ardern will stand down before the next election or that she will be challenged. Ardern said in late 2021 she had no plans to leave the role and continues to lead in the preferred Prime Minister rankings, even as her party slips behind National in some polls.

Senior Labour Minister Chris Hipkins was noted as a potential contender along with Wood.

Wood, who holds several ministerial portfolios and entered Parliament in 2016, is reported to have the nickname "Napoleon" in the Beehive due to the impact he is having and his competency and efficiency. 

But the minister told AM on Friday morning that was a surprise to him.

"If it's after Napoleon Dynamite, I'm cool with that," he said. 

"I've never actually heard that used as my nickname before. I'm pretty sure it probably is going to be now, so thanks very much Audrey Young for that one."

Asked if he had ambitions to be leader, Wood said it was "absolutely not a relevant issue to me or anyone in our caucus at all".

But could it be something he will aim towards in the future?

"No, I have this amazing job as a Cabinet minister in which I've got the chance to make changes that benefit New Zealand," he said.

"I do it under a Prime Minister who I respect enormously and I would say that anyone of us who gave more than a second of thought about that isn't focused on the job."

Michael Wood.
Michael Wood. Photo credit: Newshub.

Meanwhile, a book out this month from Stuff journalist Andrea Vance on the turbulent past five years for the National Party has suggested the party's current deputy leader Nicola Willis could eye up Christopher Luxon's job if his "momentum falters".

That was picked up by Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson during a debate in the House this week. He read out an excerpt about Willis "waiting in the wings".

But when asked about it by media on Thursday, Willis called it "ridiculous". 

"I am lining up to be the next Finance Minister for New Zealand with Prime Minister Chris Luxon."

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll in May showed Labour down 6.1 points to 38.2 percent while National was up 9.2 points to 40.5 percent. Ardern was down 7 points to 36.3 percent as preferred Prime Minister, while Luxon was up 6.1 points to 23.9 percent.