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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced, Monday, new ministers in Parliament, including the appointment of Nanaya Mahota as Minister of Foreign Affairs. First Aboriginal woman to hold this position.
After a quarter of a century of political prowess, including her most recent role as Minister for Maori Development and Local Government, Mahota will join what has become one of the most diverse parliaments in the world. “I’m excited about this team,” Ardern said. “They bring experience from the ground and within politics. But they also represent a renewal and reflect the New Zealand we live in today.”
Mahuta is one of 16 Maori priests in New Zealand. Also contributing to the cultural diversity of the Council of Ministers are Members of Parliament Ibrahim Omar and Fannushi Walters, the leaders of the first parliament of African and Sri Lankan descent.
The country has a population of 4.8 million and is represented by 120 elected members of Parliament. Currently, more than half of these representatives are women and about 10% are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The New Zealand government is also changing its course by bringing in younger members of Parliament. Ardern, who began her second term in October, became the world’s youngest female prime minister when she was elected New Zealand’s 40th prime minister in 2017. She was 37 years old at the time.
Professor Paul Spoonley, Vice President of Massey University’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, believes that New Zealand’s parliament is the most diverse in the country’s history in terms of gender, ethnicity and indigenous representation. “What we’ve seen is the departure of many old white lawmakers, including some members of parliament, over 30 years ago,” Spunley told Reuters in an interview in October.
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