New opportunities for NZ’s Pasifika MPs

By Sela Jane Hopgood of RNZ Pacific Journalist. This story is republished with permission

New Zealand’s Prime Minister has announced her government’s ministerial line up, resulting in three senior Pasifika MPs taking on new portfolios.

Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet will have two priorities – to continue the health response to keep New Zealand safe from Covid-19 and to build the recovery back better.

Earlier Carmel Sepuloni told RNZ there were nerves across the caucus as Ardern had some big decisions to make.

Carmel Sepuloni heading into the Labour caucus where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will brief MPs on her ministerial preferences for the new government.
Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Employment, Minister for ACC and Minister for Disabled issues, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

“There’s a lot of talent around our caucus and potentially we’ll see some new faces and the best people who are best placed will be selected,” she said.

The Ministry for Arts, Culture and Heritage, which was once held by Ardern, has been handed to Sepuloni, along with being named Minister for Social Development and Employment, Minister for ACC and Minister for Disabled issues.

Ardern said she was playing to people’s strengths in the allocation of portfolios.

Poto Williams has moved into Cabinet as Minister for Police and Minister for Building and Construction.

Labour MP and chair of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Pacific Region Poto Williams runs a mentoring workshop for visiting Pacific women MPs.
Poto Williams, Minister for Police and Minister for Building and Construction. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Ardern commented on Williams’ experience, which had been instrumental in the decision to name her in the role.

“Poto brings with her experience with families and sexual violence matters. Having that background is beneficial for the portfolios she now carries.

Williams will also support Kelvin Davis, as Associate Minister Children, as well as stand in as the Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing).

Kris Faafoi will continue as Minister for Broadcasting and Media and Minister of Immigration, and has taken up the portfolio of Justice.

Ardern mentioned that Faafoi will be working on electoral reform as well.

Jenny Salesa, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples
Jenny Salesa and Aupito William Sio. Photo: supplied

Outside of Cabinet, Aupito William Sio remains as Minister for Pacific Peoples.

Sio takes on the role as Minister for Courts, as well as Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education (Pacific Peoples), Justice and Health (Pacific Peoples).

Jenny Salesa was not named in the Cabinet this term.

She had been Minister for Building and Construction and Ethnic Communities in the previous term.

For the ministers who were demoted, Ardern said she considered skills, experience and their abilities.

“It’s not a singular checklist, for me I’m looking at a person as a whole,” she said.

Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi speaks during a media conference at Parliament on 23 April 2020.
Kris Faafoi will continue as Minister for Broadcasting and Media and Minister of Immigration, but he has taken up on the new portfolio of Justice. Photo: 2020 Getty Images

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