The ministers tasked with leading the Government’s work over the next three years have been revealed, with Jacinda Ardern making some big calls
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has unveiled her new Cabinet and wider ministerial team for the next term of government, with significant roles for Labour’s Māori caucus and a swift rise to power for a first-time MP.
Ardern’s reshuffle is more dramatic than most had predicted, with Nanaia Mahuta becoming the first female Foreign Affairs Minister and Ayesha Verrall elevated directly to Cabinet having only entered Parliament at this year’s election.
Phil Twyford and Jenny Salesa are the biggest losers, with the former stripped of his transport portfolio and placed outside of Cabinet while the latter has lost her ministerial roles entirely.
Unveiling her ministerial line-up, Ardern said the Government would have two overarching priorities in the next term of government: driving the economic recovery from Covid-19, and continuing the health response to keep Kiwis safe from the pandemic.
“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 said Finance Minister Grant Robertson had been appointed as Deputy Prime Minister, a mere formality after Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis took his name out of the running ahead of the party’s caucus meeting on Monday morning.
Davis has become the new Children’s Minister, and will take on oversight of Oranga Tamariki as many Māori call for a dramatic overhaul or outright replacement of the ministry following its controversial uplifts of Māori babies and children.
A new Covid minister
Chris Hipkins has kept his position as Education Minister but dropped the health portfolio in favour of a new, more specific role as Covid-19 Response Minister.
Ardern said it had become clear that overseeing New Zealand’s response to the pandemic should be kept separate from the more overarching work related to the country’s health system.
Instead, Andrew Little will become Health Minister, overseeing the significant reforms recommended by the Health and Disability System Review last year.
He will be supported by Peeni Henare, who will take an associate health role focused on Māori wellbeing, and Verrall, who in addition to an associate health portfolio will become Food Safety Minister and Seniors Minister.
Ardern said it made sense to make use of Verrall’s talents immediately, noting Labour’s Margaret Wilson and National’s Steven Joyce had also made immediate entries into Cabinet in the past.
Other ministerial newcomers include Kiritapu Allan, Michael Wood, Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Jan Tinetti, while there are comebacks for former ministers David Clark and Meka Whaitiri.
Twyford has been demoted to a minister outside of Cabinet and lost his transport portfolio to Wood, while Salesa is no longer a minister at all and will instead be nominated by Labour for the role of Assistant Speaker.
* You can view the full list of ministers and their roles below: