Indian-Origin Minister, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, is a member of the Labour Party Credit: Facebook image

Priyanca Radhakrishnan created history on Monday by becoming New Zealand’s first-ever Indian-origin minister. After her re-election and win, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden on Monday appointed Ms Radhakrishnan and four other new ministers. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who also unveiled a revamped cabinet that she described as “incredibly diverse”.

Radhakrishnan has been appointed as the Minister for the Community and Voluntary sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic communities, Minister for Youth and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.

Radhakrishnan yesterday said in a Facebook post: calling it an “incredibly special day”. “I’m feeling a lot of things including an overwhelming sense of privilege to become part of our government. Huge thanks to everyone who has taken the time to message / call/ text congratulatory messages- thank you all. Humbled to be appointed a minister and I’m looking forward to working with an incredible line up of ministerial and caucus colleagues this term. (sic).”

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Radhakrishnan has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard, women survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited. Radhakrishnan, 41, hails from Kerala’s Ernakulam district, with her roots in North Paravoor. She went on to pursue higher education first in Singapore and then New Zealand where she pursued a master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of Wellington.

She later started working for the Indian community in Auckland as a social worker. In 2006, Radhakrishnan joined the left-leaning Labour party in New Zealand and in 2017, became an MP in Jacinda Ardern’s party. A two-time MP, Radhakrishnan has spent 14 years as a Labour Party leader.

As soon as the news of Radhakrishnan’s induction as minister came out, several Indian leaders and politicians took it to social media and posted congratulatory messages. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is of the many leaders who has praised her after her big career leap.

Mr Vijayan said in a tweet today, “It gives us immense happiness to learn that Priyanca Radhakrishnan (@priyancanzlp) became the first-ever Indian-origin minister of New Zealand. The Labour party leader has her roots in Kerala. On behalf of the people of the State, we extend our warmest greetings. (sic),”

Congress’ Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter to congratulate the minister, “Congratulations @priyancazlp on becoming the first New Zealand Cabinet Minister of Indian origin. Keralites taking great pride in this news!” he tweeted.

Prime Minsiter Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet also includes Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who became the first indigenous Maori woman to become a minister in New Zealand and Grant Robertson, the first openly gay deputy Prime Minister.

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