The standard Wii remotes (aka Wiimotes) are compatible with the Wii U, however they just need to be synced to your new Wii U console, similar to how they were synced on the original Wii console.
Here are the steps to sync your Wii remotes to your Wii U.
1. Start at the main menu on your Wii U console
2. On the front of the Wii U console, look to the right of the Power button for the Sync button, and press it once
3. On the back of the Wii remote, take off the battery cover and look for the sync button and press it once (newer remotes have an access hole that allows you to press the button without removing the battery cover)
4. At the bottom of the remote, you should see a button flash and then turn solid for which remote number you’re connected as.