Kidwell will fill the role on a full-time basis, replacing predecessor Kearney who was named Warriors head coach earlier this week.
“I feel humbled and privileged to be named head coach of the Kiwis,” Kidwell said.
“As assistant, I’ve watched Stephen building a strong culture within the programme and I want to make sure that is upheld and becomes even stronger.
“That’s the message I’ll be giving to our senior players.
“I’ll add my own individual style to the Kiwis, but as far as culture and values and belief in ourselves, I’m determined to uphold these foundations of our house, as we say.
“That passion for the black-and-white jersey is paramount.”
Kidwell worked recently as an assistant coach at the Wests Tigers. He also coached the NZ Junior Kiwis in 2011-12.
“David has been part of a succession plan for when the head coach role became vacant,” NZRL chief executive Alex Hayton said.
“He has contributed to the development of the Kiwis team culture, brings continuity and certainty to the playing group over the next 14 months, leading into the Rugby League World Cup.
“David will be contracted full-time through to January 2018. This will allow David to focus 100% on the role, but also assist in pushing the Kiwis brand among young players of NZ heritage living in Australia and attend various events in New Zealand to promote the game.”