A closer look at New Zealand's most diverse Cabinet ever

Labour's Māori caucus has had a blinder. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled her new Cabinet and ministerial team on Monday and it is New Zealand's most diverse group ever. 

"Obviously, Māoridom has been wanting representation for 160-odd years, so we're very pleased," said Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis. 

Five Māori ministers have been appointed in Cabinet, one minister has been appointed outside Cabinet, plus an undersecretary. Māori now make up a quarter of the Cabinet in New Zealand. 

"We are very proud to be here representing Māori and as you can see our portfolios are very diverse," Davis added. 

The diversity of roles stretches from conservation to defence, foreign affairs and children. 

"My grandfather was the last commander of the Māori Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel James Henare," said new Defence Minister Peeni Henare. "I have family, friends and a strong association with the Defence Force."

Kelvin Davis now in charge of Oranga Tamariki amidst an influx of harrowing stories about Māori children being uplifted from their parents. 

"One thing we know for sure is if we keep doing the same things we'll end up getting the same results and that's unacceptable," he said of the new position. 

The same goes for poor outcomes in housing and health, with Peeni Henare picking up specific Māori-focused associate roles in both. 

"The institutional racism that exists for Māori exists throughout the entire health system," Henare said. 

The face of Cabinet is changing. 

New Cabinet members Dr Ayesha Verrall, Peeni Henare and Kiri Allan.
New Cabinet members Dr Ayesha Verrall, Peeni Henare and Kiri Allan. Photo credit: Newshub

"This is a Cabinet and an executive that is based on merit who also happen to be incredibly diverse and I'm proud of that," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

There's one diversity measure not yet met: despite women making up over half the population, they only make up 40 percent of the Cabinet, though the new faces are predominantly female. 

The group of women includes a very excited new Minister for Women - Jan Tinetti, who was surprised to get the call-up. 

"I think for the first time in my life I was actually speechless," she said. 

Meka Whaitiri - who was sacked last term - is stoked to get the call-back. 

"I'm honoured to get a call-back and to be part of this amazing team but I'm under no illusions about the enormous scrutiny," she said. 

The first day on the job is always daunting.

"Don't ask me any hard questions it's my first day on the job," joked Kiri Allan, who is the new Conservation Minister and part of Cabinet. "It's actually felt like an incredible whirlwind."

New Labour MPs are not expecting any big jobs. 

"I'm just a third former at the moment, my first caucus meeting," said Labour's new Northcote MP Shanan Halbert. 

But among the class of 2020 is a standout star, Dr Ayesha Verrall, who has not even been officially sworn in as an MP. She has already rocketed straight into Cabinet. 

"I tried to expect nothing but be prepared for anything," she said. 

Kieran McAnulty should prepare to have his hands full - while he didn't make the cut for Cabinet, he'll be Chief Whip, wrangling 64 Labour MPs. 

The ex-bookie has nailed his first job - the Caucus sweepstake for the Melbourne Cup.