Just one year after entering Parliament as the new MP for Botany, former Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon is the new leader of the National Party.
He replaces Judith Collins, who was dumped as party leader after suffering a motion of no-confidence during an emergency caucus meeting on November 25.
National Party MPs chose Luxon as Collins’ successor during a caucus meeting in Wellington on November 30.
His main rival for the party leadership, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, publicly revealed that after a discussion with Luxon he would withdraw from the race and back the Botany MP.
Wellington-based MP Nicola Willis will serve as deputy-leader, replacing Dr Shane Reti.
Luxon says it’s a “tremendous privilege to lead our great party” and he thanks his colleagues for the confidence they’ve placed in him.
“The unified National Party that Nicola and I lead will work every day to represent all New Zealanders, earn back their trust and confidence, and deliver for them,” he says.
“Now, more than ever, New Zealand needs the National Party to offer them hope, ambition and drive to meet the challenges of the coming decade.
“We believe New Zealanders need a Government of action, not rhetoric.
“I came to politics because I know how to solve problems and get things done.
“I have built a career out of reversing the fortunes of under-performing companies and I’ll bring that real-world experience to this role.
“We are the new National Party that New Zealand needs.”
Prior to entering politics, Luxon ran Air NZ for seven years.
He and his wife Amanda have two children.
Luxon was born in Christchurch and grew up in Howick.
He attended schools in east Auckland and studied business at the University of Canterbury before an 18-year stint working at global consumer goods company Unilever, including as president and chief executive of Unilever Canada.
Luxon returned to New Zealand in 2011 to run Air New Zealand.
Prior to becoming National’s leader, Luxon was the party’s spokesperson for Land Information, Local Government, Research, Science and Manufacturing; and associate spokesperson for the Transport portfolio.
He also serves on Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee.
In his role as Local Government spokesperson Luxon has been a leading opponent of the Government’s Three Waters reforms of the management of New Zealand’s waste, storm, and drinking water.
He was also outspoken against the recently scrapped Government’s plan to build a $785 million cycle bridge across the Waitemata Harbour.
Luxon has been active on numerous local issues in east Auckland since entering Parliament.
He’s worked with residents to address issues caused by speeding drivers in Cockle Bay and with Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown has campaigned to have police retain a physical presence in Howick and to stop the sale of local Auckland Council-owned public reserves.
The turmoil that led to the National Party’s leadership becoming vacant began on November 24 when Collins announced she’d demoted Bridges and stripped him of his parliamentary portfolios.
That move led to an emergency party caucus meeting the following morning in which Collins’ colleagues passed a motion of no-confidence in her and her subsequent removal as leader.