New Zealands Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (R) and Nanaia Mahuta (L)
New Zealands Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (R) and Nanaia Mahuta (L)
Photo Credit: AFP

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled what she called an "incredibly diverse" cabinet on Monday. The new cabinet includes New Zealand's first openly gay deputy prime minister and a foreign minister with a Maori facial tattoo.

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern appointed Grant Robertson as her new deputy. Robertson is the first openly gay person to hold the position. He also retains the finance portfolio.

While, Women and the Maori community were also strongly represented in the 20-member Cabinet, including new Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who has a "moko kauae" - a traditional Maori tattoo on her chin.

So who the new tattooed Foreign Minister?

Born 21 August, 1970, Nanaia Mahuta is the first female MP to wear Māori facial tattoo in New Zealand parliament. Mahuta was born in Auckland and studied at the University of Auckland for a diploma in Maori business development.

Mahuta, the first woman to become New Zealand foreign minister, was elected to parliament in 1996 but got the traditional tattoo in 2016 at the urging of her daughter. The distinctive decoration is unique to her, although it has design elements specific to her iwi, or tribe. The male moko covers the entire face. Traditionally women’s facial moko were confined to the chin area, while men’s could be across the whole face.

At the that time, Mahuta said the tattoo was a way to both honour her ancestors and reduce stigma surrounding an aspect of Maori culture that many New Zealanders have associated with crime and gangs.

As well as the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Mahuta has retained her role as Minister of Local Development and will serve as Associate Minister for Māori Development.

Before becoming first woman New Zealand foreign minister, she served as the Minister for Maori Development and Minister for Local Government. She was previously a cabinet minister in the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand, serving then as Minister of Customs, Minister of Local Government, Minister of Youth Development, Associate Minister for the Environment, and Associate Minister of Tourism.

(Inputs from Agencies)

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal