Keralite among new faces in New Zealand PM Jacinda's Cabinet

Keralite Priyanca Radhakrishnan becomes minister in New Zealand's new Cabinet
Priyanca Radhakrishnan with Jacinda Ardern | Photo: Instagram page of Priyanca

Wellington: Labour Party's MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan has created history by becoming the first person of Indian origin to become a minister in New Zealand's new Cabinet announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The second time MP Priyanca has been appointed as the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities and Minister for Youth and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.

Her elevation to have three full-fledged minister roles and one associate roles in the new government has been considered a big achievement. Priyanca is a minister outside of the Cabinet.

"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.

In the previous Cabinet, Priyanca was the private secretary to the then Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. She was elected first as a Member of Parliament in September 2017.

Priyanca was born in Chennai but her family is from Paravoor in Ernakulam, Kerala. She is the daughter of Raman Radhakrishnan and Usha. She has been part of the Labour Party for the past 14 years. IT professional Richardson is Priyanca's husband.

Priyanca, who shifted to Singapore during her childhood days moved to New Zealand for higher studies. She took her post-graduation in developmental studies from Victoria University of Wellington.

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.

Her work in that area has helped her build the base for her new role of Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities.

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.

(With inputs from PTI)

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