November 4, 2020: Ms Priyanca Radhakrishnan has become New Zealand’s first-ever Indian-origin minister. She is one of the five new ministers announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on November 2. The new executive will be sworn in on November 6.
She will be sworn in as Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities as well as the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector. In New Zealand, she is a prominent voice of women survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.
Ms Priyanca joined the Labour Party in 2006 and was elected as a Member of Parliament in September 2017. In 2019, she was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities.
New Zealand recently re-elected Ms Jacinda Arden as Prime Minister in a landslide victory for the Labour Party. Announcing the names of the new ministers, Prime Minister Ardern said, “I am excited to be bringing in some new talent, with 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.”
“This is a Cabinet and an executive that is based on merit but also happens to be incredibly diverse,” said Ms Ardern.
Ms Priyanca Radhakrishna hails from Kerala’s Ernakulam district in India. She went to school in Singapore and moved to New Zealand to pursue a master’s degree in development studies from the Victoria University. She is married to New Zealand citizen Richardson and lives in Auckland with family.
Indians rejoiced at her appointment and several leaders congratulated Ms Radhakrishnan on twitter. Her father, an IIT-Kanpur alumnus, expressed it was a “proud moment” but hardly a surprise.
“The post of Minister was not totally unexpected. We believed that she would get some greater role in the government, and the Prime Minister had indicated to her about it,” said Mr Radhakrishnan.
Her father also added that she was active in student politics. “Priyanca made her debut in politics when she contested and got elected as the International Students’ Officer of the Massey University Students Association. She decided to stay back in New Zealand, when senior leaders of the Labour Party encouraged her to join the party,” said Mr Radhakrishnan.