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New Zealand's Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, flanked by other senior Maori lawmakers, talks to reporters, Nov. 2, 2020, in Wellington, New Zealand.
Nick Perry/AP
Girls & Women

Jacinda Ardern Appoints New Zealand's First Indigenous Female Foreign Minister


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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's new cabinet is a major win for diversity and inclusion. 

Ardern appointed the country’s first Indigenous woman as foreign minister on Monday, according to CNN.

Nanaia Mahuta will further represent New Zealand’s Māori Indigenous people in parliament and will be sworn in along with 19 other cabinet members on Friday. 

"I'm privileged to be able to lead the conversation in the foreign space," Mahuta said on Radio New Zealand.

Māori people make up 15% of New Zealand’s population and without equal representation, their needs and concerns can go unaddressed. When Indigenous women have a seat at the table, they can help close the gaps between policymakers and the communities impacted by their decisions. 

Mahuta has held seats in parliament since 1996 and previously worked as minister of local government and Māori development, according to CNN. She was also the first woman to wear a traditional Māori moko kauae chin tattoo on her chin in parliament. 

"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 on Monday, according to CNN.

"They reflect the New Zealand that elected them."

New Zealand’s incoming 20-member cabinet is slated to be one of the diverse in the world, according to CNN. 

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Globally, women make up 25% of governments on average, but half of New Zealand's lawmakers will be women. 

Former Finance Minister Grant Robertson was also named deputy prime minister on Monday. Robertson is the first openly gay person to hold the position, according to Al Jazeera. Roughly 10% of Arden’s incoming parliament is openly LGBTQ+. 

Arden has been shaping her cabinet since she won a second term by a landslide on Oct. 17.

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Leaders celebrated Mahuta's appointment across the aisle, according to CNN. Simon Bridges, former leader of the center-right National Party, told Mahuta she’ll be “great,” and Green Party politician Golriz Ghahraman said New Zealand is “decolonizing” its representation in foreign affairs.