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Nanaia Mahuta Becomes New Zealand's First Female Indigenous Foreign Minister

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On Monday, Nanaia Mahuta became New Zealand’s first female Indigenous foreign minister, replacing Winston Peters who had held the position since 2017. Mahuta, who is also the first-ever member of the New Zealand parliament to don a moko kauae - a traditional tattoo - on her chin, has previously served as a cabinet minister in the Fifth Labour Government, as the Minister of Customs, the Minister of Local Government, the Minister of Youth Development, the Associate Minister for the Environment, and as the Associate Minister of Tourism. In 2018, Mahuta was ranked among BBC’s 100 women.

Talking to national broadcaster Radio New Zealand, Mahuta exclaimed that she was "privileged to be able to lead the conversation in the foreign space."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's center-left Labour Party was reelected in a landslide last month. And Mahuta’s election into New Zealand’s new parliament has been another step in its race to become one of the most diverse parliaments in the world. Nearly 50% of the parliament consists of women, which is a big jump from the global average of 25% female participation. 10% of the incoming parliament are openly LGBTQ. New Zealand's new deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is also gay.

Talking about the diverse climate of her parliament, Ardern said "This is a cabinet and an executive that is based on merit that also happens to be incredibly diverse and I am proud of that." "They reflect the New Zealand that elected them," she added.

While Mahuta is certainly the first female indigenous foreign minister, her predecessor Peters was also Māori, who are the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Politicians within New Zealand have welcomed Mahuta’s appointment as a foreign minister,. Simon Bridges - the former leader of the center-right National Party - congratulated Mahuta saying "It's an important time internationally and you'll be great."

Green Party politician Golriz Ghahraman - New Zealand's first elected refugee MP - said it was "exciting" that the country was "decolonizing" its voice in foreign affairs.

Source: CNN