Priyanca Radhakrishnan on Monday became New Zealand’s first-ever Indian-origin minister after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern inducted five new ministers into her executive, two weeks after her party won a landslide victory in the country’s general election.
“Today has been an incredibly special day. I’m feeling a lot of things including an overwhelming sense of privilege to become part of our Government,” the 41-year-old Labour Party leader said.
“Huge thanks to everyone who has taken the time to message/call/text congratulatory messages- thank you all. Humbled to be appointed a Minister and I’m looking forward to working with an incredible line up of Ministerial and caucus colleagues this term,” she said in a Facebook post.
She was born in Chennai but her family is from Paravoor in Kerala. She went to school in Singapore before moving to New Zealand to further her education.
She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – women survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited. She was elected first as a Member of Parliament in September 2017.
In 2019, she was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities. Her work in that area has helped her build the base for her new role of Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities.
In addition to this, she has become the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.
She has become New Zealand’s first-ever Kiwi Indian Minister, the New Zealand Herald newspaper quoted Indian Weekender as saying.
Radhakrishnan, who is from the 2017 intake of new MPs, is a minister outside of the Cabinet.
She lives in Auckland with her husband.
Announcing the names of the new ministers, Prime Minister Ardern said: “I am excited to be bringing in some new talent, with first-hand experience in the areas that they will be working in, and reflecting the New Zealand that elected us on the 17th of October”.
“Within this lineup, I’m playing to people’s strengths,” she said.
“This is a Cabinet and an executive that is based on merit but also happens to be incredibly diverse,” Ardern said, days after her centre-left Labour Party won a landslide victory in the country’s general election.
The new executive will be sworn in on Friday, which will be followed by the Cabinet’s first meeting.
“Much of what we’re focused on is making sure we’ve got our economic recovery hastened,” the 40-year-old prime minister said.
If ministers don’t deliver, they will be shown the door, Ardern warned.