New Zealand appoints first-ever Indigenous female foreign minister

New Zealand is celebrating a progressive step forward in politics, with the appointment of its first-ever Indigenous female foreign minister.

On Monday, Jacinda Ardern appointed New Zealand’s first Indigenous female foreign minister into what is officially one of the most diverse parliaments in the world.

Nanaia Mahuta, a Māori woman, has been proving her political excellence for 25 years, previously serving as the Minister for Māori Development and Local Government. Mahuta also made history by being the first person ever to bear the moko kauae, a traditional Māori chin tattoo, in parliament.

nz indigenous female minister
Photo: Michael Bradley/Getty Images

Mahuta will serve as the foreign affairs minister, taking over from Winston Peters, who is also Māori.

“I’m privileged to be able to lead the conversation in the foreign space,” Mahuta said, according to national broadcaster Radio New Zealand.

Since Ardern’s election in 2017, New Zealand has been leading the way in progressive politics. This new cabinet is no different, with her senate making up one of the most diverse in the world.

The cabinet already houses 5 Māori ministers and 10% of its members identify as LGBQTI+, not to mention almost half of New Zealand’s MPs are now women, smashing the global average of just 25%.

“This is a cabinet and an executive that is based on merit that also happen to be incredibly diverse and I am proud of that,” Ardern said Monday as she announced her cabinet.

The appointment of Mahuta is a huge step forward for Indigenous affairs all over the world. It sends a strong message that Indigenous people can and will create meaningful change in politics.

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