File photo taken onDec. 5, 2016 shows Bill English attending a press conference inWellington, New Zealand. New Zealand's ruling center-right NationalParty on Dec. 12, 2016 confirmed that Bill English is replacingoutgoing Prime Minister John Key, while the new Deputy PrimeMinister will be Paula Bennett. (Xinhua/Su Liang)
WELLINGTON, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) --- New Zealand's ruling center-right National Party on Monday confirmed that Bill English is replacing outgoing Prime Minister John Key, and the new deputy prime minister will be Paula Bennett.
English, who was elected by his parliamentary caucus exactly a week after Key announced his shock resignation, repeatedly stressed in a broadcast press conference that the government under his leadership would follow the same policy settings laid down under Key's eight years as the country's leader.
He had already said that Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce would replace him as finance minister, but he declined Monday to outline any further changes to his cabinet, saying they would be announced before Christmas.
English, 54, has been deputy to Key and finance minister since the National Party came to power in 2008.
He was a farmer in the far south of the South Island and policy analyst at the New Zealand Treasury before being elected to Parliament in 1990.
He will lead the government into the next general election, which must take place by September next year.
He became National Party leader in 2001 and led the party to its worst ever general election defeat in 2002.
He said at the press conference that he had learned a lot since his 2002 defeat.
"You learn a lot more from losing than you do from winning," he said.
He described himself as an "active Catholic and proud of it" and said his faith was important to him: "It doesn't define me, but it's an important influence."
He said New Zealand would continue to build on its "critical" relationship with the United States under President-elect Donald Trump.
"The fundamental relationship is in great shape and we'd like to use the opportunity of the relationship with the United States to influence them on issues that matter to us," he said.
He paid tribute to deputy leader Paula Bennett and her "inspiring journey from teenage solo mum to Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand."
Bennett, previously ranked fifth in the cabinet, first became a minister in 2008 after being elected to Parliament in 2005.
She has held the portfolios of social development, climate change issues, social housing and state services.
Bennett said she was grateful for being given a second chance since she was "a 17-year-old Maori solo mum."
"The last couple of days have been pretty reflective, I must say," said Bennett.
Both English and Bennett were elected unopposed after rival candidates withdrew their nominations.
In terms of personality and background, English is commonly perceived to be as different from Key as he could be.
The self-deprecating Key has sold himself and the country over eight years in power on his outward optimism and ability to shrug off trouble traits that have carried him on a rags-to-riches rise.
Key grew up in a state house in Christchurch before studying commerce at Canterbury University and going straight into investment banking, a career that took him abroad as a foreign exchange dealer for Merrill Lynch and made his fortune.
English, on the other hand, has established a reputation as a dour policy wonk, with the gruff exterior of a stereotypical New Zealand farmer.
But together they formed one of the most rock-solid political partnerships in recent New Zealand history.
Together they will be remembered for steering New Zealand through its economic recovery after the global financial crisis of 2008 and the disastrous Canterbury earthquakes that killed 185 people in February 2011.
Key will take up a seat on the government's back benches until he leaves Parliament next year.