Monday 2 November 2020 10:55 AM UTC
By A Staff Reporter
MELBOURNE Nov 2: Priyanca Radhakrishnan, a native of Paravur, Ernakulam, has made history as a member of New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden Cabinet.
This is the first time an Indian has become a minister in New Zealand, as Priyanca takes up the role in Arden’s new and diverse 20-strong cabinet that features eight women, five that are Māori, three Pasifika and three from the LGBT community.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan, 41, hails from a family with strong political roots, with her great grandfather being involved heavily in the formation of Kerala and being active in progressive left wing politics.
Priyanca is the daughter of Paravoor Madavanaparambu Raman Radhakrishnan and Usha. Even though she has her roots in Paravoor, most of her relatives are based in Chennai – where she was born.
Priyanca arrived in New Zealand in 2004 on a student visa from Singapore to pursue higher studies. She holds a Master’s Degree in Development Studies from Victoria University, Wellington and a degree in Media Studies and Sociology.
She joined the Labour Party in 2006 and was a member of the policy-making committee of the party and an advisor to several sub-committees of the party.
When speaking about her reasons for pursuing politics, she said “By working to support those who are weaker than I am, my parents have taught me to value social justice and to lead a holistic life. As soon as I came to New Zealand as an international student, I was selected as an International Students Officer. That was my first experience being selected for a position.”
Prime Minister Arden congratulated the Malayalee community in New Zealand for Priyanca’s appointment via the social media pages.
Priyanca is an MP despite losing the election. The electoral system in New Zealand is different from that in India. Of the total 120 parliamentary seats, 71 are electoral seats.When voters elect their MPs directly to these constituencies, the remaining 49 seats are calculated from the list provided by the respective party based on the percentage of votes received by each party.
Priyanca lost the Mongkake constituency by 3,000 votes in a close contest. Priyanca was nominated as a Labor MP on the basis of her ability. This time she was 112nd in the list of party candidates. She was elected first as a Member of Parliament belonging to the Labour Party in September 2017. In 2019, she was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities.
Her work in that area has helped her build the base for her new role of Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities. In addition to this, she has become the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.
She has become New Zealand’s first-ever Kiwi Indian Minister, the New Zealand Herald newspaper quoted Indian Weekender as saying.
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 the 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.
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