New Zealand prime minster appoints country’s first Indigenous female foreign minister

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Nanaia Mahuta the Labour parties MP for Tainui talks to the Tuhoe hikoi protesters protest at the grounds of Parliament during a protest November 14, 2007 in Wellington, New Zealand. Maori are protesting against the new anti terrorism suppression legislation and a Police action in the Bay of Plenty.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appointed Nanaia Mahuta to serve as minister of Foreign Affairs, making her the first Indigenous woman to hold the position.

Mahuta previously worked as minister for Māori Development and Local Government, according to NPR, and has worked in politics for about 25 years. She is one of 16 Māori ministers in New Zealand’s cabinet.

Mahuta will be part of one of the most diverse parliaments under Ardern, NPR notes. Of the 120 elected members of parliament in New Zealand, more than half are women and about 10 percent are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Speaking of her ministers, Ardern said, “I am excited by this team. They bring experience from the ground, and from within politics. But they also represent renewal and reflect the New Zealand we live in today.”

New Zealand’s government has made a marked change by bringing in younger members of parliament. As NPR notes, Ardern became the youngest female head of state in the world after winning the 2017 election at 37. She began her second term as prime minister in October after a landslide victory.

As CNN reports, Mahuta was first elected to parliament in 1996. She is a related to Māori royalty through the late queen Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu and current king Kingi Tuheitia.

Along with being the first Māori woman to be minister of Foreign Affairs, she is also the first woman to wear the moko kauae, a Māori tattoo design, to parliament. She received the tattoo in 2016.

According to CNN, Mahuta told Radio New Zealand, “I’m privileged to be able to lead the conversation in the foreign space.”

“The first face that people see at an international level is someone who speaks, looks and sounds like a Māori. The face of New Zealand is Indigenous,” she said.

Tags foreign affairs Indigenous people Jacinda Ardern Maori Minister for Māori Development New Zealand

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