Jacinda Ardern Appoints New Zealand’s First Indigenous Female Foreign Minister
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed the country’s first indigenous female foreign minister.
Nanaia Mahuta is both the first female foreign minister and the first female Māori woman to have been given the position, in what many are calling the most diverse parliamentary cabinet in the world. The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand.
Mahuta also boasts a moko kauae, a traditional Māori tattoo, on her chin, making her the country’s first female member of parliament to have one.
The previous foreign minister, Winston Peters, was also Māori.
Discussing her new position, 50-year-old Mahuta said in a statement, as per Radio New Zealand:
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.
The move comes after Ardern was re-elected as Prime Minister after a landslide victory over her opposition.
In a separate statement, Ardern has predicted the next three years for New Zealand would be ‘very challenging’ and that it won’t be immune from the ongoing impact COVID-19 is having around the world.
In what will be a difficult environment it’s critical we have our most experienced ministers leading the ongoing Covid response to keep New Zealanders safe from the virus and to accelerate our plan for economic recovery.
Ardern’s parliament will be nearly 50% women, according to CNN, much higher than the rest of the global average of 25%.
In addition to this, around 10% of cabinet members are part of the LGBTQ+ community, including Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.
In regards to her cabinet’s diversity, Ardern said, ‘This is a cabinet and an executive that is based on merit that also happen to be incredibly diverse and I am proud of that. They reflect the New Zealand that elected them.’
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