Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s center-left Labour Party was reelected in a landslide last month, winning 49.1% of the vote according to preliminary results. Taking 64 of the 120 seats, her party was the first to win a majority since the country’s current political system was introduced in 1996.
“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.
“They reflect the New Zealand that elected them,” she added.
Who is Nanaia Mahuta?
In 2016, Mahuta took part in a traditional moko — or Māori tattooing design — ceremony, and became the first woman to wear a moko kauae to parliament.
Rukuwai Tipene-Allen, a political journalist for Māori Television who also wears a moko kauae, said Mahuta’s appointment was hugely significant.
“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.”
She said the fact Mahuta wears a moko kauae is hugely empowering.
“It shows that our culture has a place at an international level, that people see the importance of Māori, and the point of difference that being Māori brings to such a role,” Tipene-Allen added. “Wearing the markings of her ancestors shows people that there are no boundaries to Māori and where they can go.”
Green Party politician Golriz Ghahraman — who was New Zealand’s first elected refugee MP — congratulated Mahuta, saying it was “exciting” that the country was “decolonizing” its voice in foreign affairs.
CNN has reached out to Mahuta for comment.