New Zealand has first openly gay deputy PM, first woman as Foreign Affairs Minister

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The Government's new line up sees the country's first woman appointed as Foreign Affairs Minister and New Zealand's first openly gay deputy Prime Minister. 

Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Māori Development has expressed her condolences at the passing of Piri Sciascia

"For me it was a natural decision to take," Jacinda Ardern said today on Nanaia Mahuta's new role. 

"Nanaia has in the course of the last term held an associate trade role which has given her experience in that area. 

"She is someone who builds fantastic relationships very, very quickly and that is one of the key jobs in a foreign affairs role."

Mahuta received praise from across the House - with former National leader Simon Bridges tweeting his congratulations. 

"It’s an important time internationally and you’ll be great."

Green Party's Golriz Ghahraman wrote, "decolonising our voice in foreign affairs is exciting".

"We should stop and think about what it means that this is only the first time ever a woman, and a strong wahine Māori, holds this portfolio.

"I can't wait to congratulate and work with Nanaia Mahuta on global issues."

Mahuta said today that she followed "in the line of a long legacy of firsts for women, and I hope many other women of Māori descent, of mixed descent across New Zealand will see this as lifting the ceiling once again on areas that have been very much closed to us in terms of professional opportunities".

She takes the role from Winston Peters. 

The country's first openly gay Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson today said he thought it was "important to acknowledge particularly for the younger members of the rainbow community, that they can see members of their communities taking on roles, particularly like Deputy Prime Minister". 

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 11: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson speak to reporters at a Labour Party Election rally at the Michael Fowler Centre on October 11, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. The 2020 New Zealand General Election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community.  (Photo by Lynn Grieveson - Newsroom/Newsroom via Getty Images)

"Grant has been given the seniority and portfolio mix required to drive our economic recovery," Jacinda Ardern said at the announcement, also handing him the infrastructure portfolio, while retaining his role as Finance Minister. 

Tabby Besley of InsideOut said the appointment "sends a really strong message for young people, regardless of your sexuality, you can be successful, you can be a Deputy Prime Minister". 

She said it was also great to see three openly gay women holding Ministerial positions - Kiri Allan, Ayesha Verrall and Meka Whaitiri. 

"It's so important for any marginalised community so see themselves reflected back.

"We would love to see the trans and intersex community represented, going forward."

Sports Minister Grant Robertson poses with Highlanders fans at the launch of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Taine Polkinghorne, the sexual orientation and gender identity advisor at the Human Rights Commission said it was "fantastic to see this Parliament will be one of most diverse in the world and the first time New Zealand will have an openly gay Deputy Prime Minister".

"However, there is still room for improvement. Work is needed to ensure our trans, non-binary, and intersex communities are also reflected in our House of Representatives."