Diplomatic eyebrows were raised when PM Jacinda Ardern named Nanaia Mahuta as Minister of Foreign Affairs. She is the first woman to hold the portfolio and she got the job ahead of more highly ranked figures including Andrew Little and David Parker, who were understood to be interested in steering policy in this field.
Mahuta’s only international experience seems to have been as associate trade minister in the previous government but Beehive insiders say David Parker – as Minister of Trade and Export Growth – was loath to let anything of substance out of his reach in that field. In the past three years every press statement in this portfolio was released in Parker’s name except for a few released in the name of Damien O’Connor as Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth. We found none released in Mahuta’s name, although she did issue some trade-related statements as Minister for Maori Development.
As a politician she has been relatively self-effacing, although in her own fields she is said to be thorough and careful. but Ardern offered a powerful rationale for Mahuta’s elevation to one of the key ministries, pointing to her aptitude for building strong relationships. She might also have mentioned that Mahuta listens carefully to her advisers. Continue reading “Mahuta and Henare – key appointments which show NZ no longer should be regarded as a European outpost”