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Saturday, January 23, 2021

New Zealand's PM unveils diverse new cabinet

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New Zealand's PM unveils diverse new cabinet
New Zealand's PM unveils diverse new cabinet

Jacinda Ardern appointed on Monday the most diverse cabinet in New Zealand's history, with a Maori woman taking up the position of foreign minister.

Flora Bradley-Watson reports.

New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern unveiled her new cabinet on Monday (November 2) and it's the most diverse the country has seen.

Of the 20-strong body eight are women, five are Maori, and three are LGBT.

The role of foreign minister has gone to Nanaia Mahuta, the first female to hold the portfolio, who is also a Maori with a facial tattoo.

"I'm absolutely privileged to be able to lead the conversation in the foreign affairs space because what we know more than ever before in a COVID context is that as a small country we need to develop our relationships, remain committed to a multilateral, rules based trade system that works for New Zealand." Ardern also brought in her right-hand man, Grant Robertson as deputy leader.

He's the first openly gay man in the role.

Robertson will also continue as finance miniser, in charge of driving the economic recovery from the global health pandemic.

Ardern created a new portfolio dedicated to handling Covid-19, as she laid out her plans for the next term.

"As I have said our ongoing response to COVID will be a priority for this term and there are ways we believe we can improve our response even further." New Zealand has so far reported 25 deaths and just over 1,600 cases of the coronavirus - far lower than any other developed country.

Ardern's adept handling of the crisis helped Labour win 64 of the 120 seats in parliament in last month's election.

It was the best result for Labour in five decades, and meant Ardern was able to form the first single party government since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996.

Despite this, her ministry will include two senior Green Party members in roles outside of cabinet.

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