Prime Minister Ardern appoints new ministers following last month’s landslide victory in parliamentary elections.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled what she described as “incredibly diverse” cabinet on Monday when she promised to prioritize economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Treasury Secretary Grant Robertson was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, the first openly gay person to hold the position. He also keeps the finance portfolio.
Women and the Maori community were also well represented in the 20-person cabinet, including the new Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who wears a “Moko Kauae” – a traditional Maori tattoo on her chin.
After a landslide election victory, Ardern revised its ministerial list and thus formed the first one-party government since New Zealand switched to a German system of proportional representation in 1996.
“The next three years will be challenging for New Zealand,” she told reporters in Wellington. “With the global outlook deteriorating, we will not be immune to the ongoing effects of COVID around the world.”
While Ardern took pride in the diversity of her cabinet, he also said that appointments were made on the basis of merit.
“It’s both a cabinet of great merit and talent that is also incredibly diverse,” said the 40-year-old.
“I think it’s an important point – these are people who have been promoted for what they bring to the cabinet. They also reflect the New Zealand that she chose.
“I think as a country we should be proud of it.”
Ardern won the October 17th election campaign over New Zealand’s success with the coronavirus. Her cabinet includes a new role as Minister for the COVID-19 Response, filled by former Health Secretary Chris Hipkins.
She said the change would allow Hipkins to focus on issues like border control and controlled isolation without distracting from the broader health portfolio.
It also appointed two Green lawmakers to ministries outside the cabinet.
One Greens co-chair, James Shaw, will become Minister for Climate Change and the other, Marama Davidson, will have a portfolio focused on preventing domestic and sexual violence.
The government will be sworn in on Friday.