Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled what she called an “incredibly diverse” cabinet on Monday, as she promised to prioritise economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Finance Minister Grant Robertson was named deputy prime minister, the first openly gay person to hold the position. He also retains the finance portfolio.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Women and the Maori community were also strongly represented in the 20-member cabinet, including new Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who has a “moko kauae” – a traditional Maori tattoo on her chin.
Ardern has revamped her ministerial lineup in the wake of a landslide election victory, allowing her to form the first single-party government since New Zealand moved to a German-style system of proportional representation in 1996.
“The next three years will be very challenging for New Zealand,” she told reporters in Wellington. “With the global outlook worsening we won’t be immune to the ongoing effect COVID is having around the world.”
While expressing pride at her cabinet’s diversity, Ardern also said appointments were made on merit.
“It is both a cabinet with huge merit and talent, which also happens to be incredibly diverse,” the 40-year-old said.
“I think it’s an important point to make – these are individuals who have been promoted for what they bring to the cabinet, they also reflect the New Zealand that elected them.
“I think as a country we should be proud of this.”
Ardern won the October 17 election campaigning on New Zealand’s success containing the coronavirus and her cabinet includes a new role of minister for COVID-19 response, filled by former Health Minister Chris Hipkins.
She said the change would allow Hipkins to focus on issues such as border control and managed isolation, without distraction from the wider health portfolio.
She also appointed two legislators from the Green Party to ministries outside the cabinet.
One Greens co-leader, James Shaw, will become climate change minister and the other, Marama Davidson, will have a portfolio focusing on preventing family and sexual violence.
The government will be sworn in on Friday.