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Bill English Sworn In as New Zealand's Prime Minister

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, left, stands with the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, after being sworn-in at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, Dec. 12, 2016.

New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English was sworn in Monday as the country's new prime minister after last week's surprise announcement that John Key was stepping down after eight years in the role.

The swearing-in ceremony was held at Government House in Wellington.

English, a former farmer with degrees in commerce and literature, said he is "excited and humbled" by his new job.

He is taking over at a time when New Zealand is doing well economically.

"We have a strong economy, almost unique in the developed world," English said, "and most New Zealanders expect to be able to share in that."

English said one of the priorities for his government would be to ensure the most needy New Zealanders are given opportunities.

State Services Minister Paula Bennett was named as the deputy leader.

She said Monday, "There was a moment when I was a 17-year-old Maori solo mum ... I'd left school .. I didn't have a job and it looked pretty bleak."

Bennett said the fact she was given a second chance and is now the deputy prime minister is "a credit to New Zealand."

Former prime minister Key said last week he was stepping down for family reasons.