Nanaia Mahuta and Grant Robertson in July. Photo / Facebook
The final look of Parliament is coming into focus, with PM Jacinda Ardern announcing her new cabinet yesterday after signing a cooperation agreement with the Green Party over the weekend.
Described as one of the most diverse Parliaments in the world, Labour’s new cabinet also includes a record number of Māori and a number of 'firsts'.
Nanaia Mahuta has been named Foreign Affairs Minister, and is the first woman - and first wāhine Māori - in the position.
Describing the appointment as a huge privilege, she told Radio NZ, “We're the first country to give women the right to vote, the first country to ensure that we are progressive on issues relating to women.
"So I follow in the line of a long legacy of firsts for women, and I hope many other women of Māori and mixed descent across New Zealand will see this as lifting the ceiling once again on areas that have been very much closed to us in terms of professional opportunities.”
Mahuta also made history in 2016 when she was the first woman to wear a moko kauae in parliament. “Moko is a statement of identity, like a passport,” she told the Guardian. “I am at a time in my life where I am ready to make a clear statement that this is who I am, and this is my position in New Zealand.”
There was widespread support for her appointment.
On Twitter the Green Party’s Golriz Ghahraman wrote, "decolonising our voice in foreign affairs is exciting. We should stop and think about what it means that this is only the first time ever a woman, and a strong wahine Māori, holds this portfolio”.
Another first in the new cabinet and Parliament is new Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, the first openly gay person to hold the position.
He told TVNZ that he thought it was “important to acknowledge particularly for the younger members of the rainbow community, that they can see members of their communities taking on roles, particularly like Deputy Prime Minister”.
Other promotions to Labour’s cabinet include first-time ministers East Coast MP Kiri Allan as Minister of Conservation, Emergency Management and Associate for Arts, Culture, Heritage and the Environment, and Ayesha Verrall as Minister for Food Safety and Seniors and associate roles in Health and Research, Science and Innovation.
Over the weekend the Prime Minister signed an agreement with the Green Party, and appointed co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw as ministers.
Shaw keeps his Minister for Climate Change position while Davidson was named in a new role Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence.
Women's Refuge chief executive Ang Jury told Newshub that the appointment was something they have wanted for a long time.
"I think it's a real demonstration of the Government's commitment to family violence and a minister nonetheless is a huge step forward for us."