Who is Barbara Edmonds, the Labour MP picking up Grant Robertson's finance portfolio?

When the Labour Party won an outright majority in 2020, few could've predicted its Finance Minister - dubbed by many as a steady hand during a once-in-a-generation pandemic - would be heading for the exit door the very next term. 

Now Grant Robertson, who was also the Deputy Prime Minister during that period, is retiring from politics after just months in Opposition. 

The 52-year-old Labour veteran announced his retirement on Tuesday

Leader Chris Hipkins subsequently unveiled Barbara Edmonds, already head of Labour's revenue portfolio, to serve as the party's Opposition finance spokesperson. 

Here are some facts about Edmonds:  

The parents of Edmonds, a 43-year-old tax lawyer, "came off a plane... from Samoa in 1976 to give their kids a better life", she told reporters on Tuesday. 

"Ten years later, my father was a widower at the age of 40 with four children under the ages of 11," she said. 

"I became a tax lawyer but I was brought up in a benefit-dependent household. 

Barbara Edmonds.
Barbara Edmonds. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I've been able to build relationships across business, unions... different sectors that you may not necessarily think a Labour politician would." 

In 2020, Edmonds became a member of Parliament - elected in the Wellington seat of Mana

That same year, Edmonds became Associate Whip for Labour until the end of the party's term in Government. After Chris Hipkins replaced Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister last year, Edmonds also became a minister for the first time - picking up the Internal Affairs, Pacific Peoples, Economic Development and Revenue portfolios. 

Edmonds, described as a "formidable parliamentarian" by Hipkins, was also in the Associate Finance Minister role from July last year until the election. She remained a member of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, which she entered in 2020 and included stints as chair and deputy. 

Speaking after her appointment, Edmonds said finance "all draws down to people". 

"Every day you walk into these doors [of the Beehive], I ask myself why I'm here and the reason why I came here was to provide a voice for those who are most vulnerable. 

"That's what fuels me and the things that I'm seeing from the Government currently are... disappointing for me, because it will impact most vulnerable people. 

"We need to go into the 2026 election with a really clear plan that aligns with our Labour values."