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New NZ PM Bill English unveils front bench

AAP logoAAP 18/12/2016

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English has unveiled his first ministerial lineup, keeping Murray McCully as foreign minister until May while he gets up to speed on foreign policy.

Mr McCully, who's announced he won't be contesting next year's election, will stay on as foreign minister until May 1.

Mr English says he wants to spend the coming months learning the ins and outs of the foreign ministry before appointing a successor.

"I've done some international work as a finance minister but there's a whole range of issues that the previous prime minister and the New Zealand foreign policy establishment are involved in that I'm not familiar with," he told reporters in Wellington on Sunday.

"When I've got a better picture of that, I think I'll have a better idea of what the succession should look like."

Mr McCully, one of the longest-serving foreign ministers in the developed world, is expected to accompany English on various overseas trips in the new year.

Mr English unveiled his front bench in Wellington on Sunday, with few significant changes from John Key's ministry team.

Core cabinet portfolios are largely unchanged, including defence with Gerry Brownlee remaining. Steven Joyce was last week appointed minister of finance.

No one has been sacked, and the positions he has filled with newcomers were vacated by ministers who decided not to stand for re-election.

Two ministers previously outside cabinet, Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston, have been promoted to cabinet positions.

Backbenchers Alfred Ngaro, Mark Mitchell and David Bennett are the new junior ministers.

"This new ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities," Mr English said.

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