Cabinet reshuffle: Nanaia Mahuta says new role as Foreign Affairs Minister follows 'legacy of firsts for women'

Newly-minted Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta has become the first woman in New Zealand's history to land the coveted portfolio - a feat she does not take lightly. 

During her Cabinet reshuffle announcement on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Mahuta would be replacing Winston Peters in the role after New Zealand First was ousted from Parliament in last month's election.

Following Ardern's announcement, Labour's Māori ministers addressed reporters on the significant level of Māori representation, with five ministers in Cabinet, two ministers out of Cabinet - including Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson - and parliamentary under-secretary Rino Tirikatene.

Mahuta, who formerly served as the Minister for Māori Development, was also the first Māori woman to land the portfolio in 2017.

When asked by a reporter on the significance of her milestones, Mahuta graciously responded that her successes followed a long line of landmarks achieved by New Zealand women.

"It's a huge privilege, but I hope that when people reflect on a number of firsts of many women in this Parliament, it's the legacy that we've inherited," she said. "The first country to give women the right to vote, the first country to ensure that we are progressive on issues relating to women.

"I follow in the line of a long legacy of firsts for women, and I hope that many other women of Māori descent, mixed descent, across New Zealand will see this as lifting the ceiling once again on areas that have been very much closed to us in terms of professional opportunities."

As well as the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Mahuta has retained her role as Minister of Local Development and will serve as Associate Minister for Māori Development.

In addition to Mahuta, Labour's fresh Cabinet features Māori ministers Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare, Willie Jackson and Kiri Allan, as well as Meka Whaitiri and Marama Davidson as out of Cabinet ministers. 

Kelvin Davis has retained his role as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, but decided not to take on the role of Deputy Prime Minister, a position which has been given to Finance Minister Grant Robertson.