Priyanca Radhakrishnan becomes first New Zealand minister with Kerala roots

Born in India, she did her schooling in Singapore before shifting to New Zealand to further her education
Priyanca Radhakrishnan
Priyanca RadhakrishnanOfficial Facebook page

Priyanca Radhakrishnan became New Zealand’s first ever Indian-origin minister to be inducted in Prime Minister Jacinda Arden's ministry. She was handed three key portfolios, which include community and voluntary sector, diversity, inclusion and ethnic communities, youth and, is also an associate minister for social development and employment.

The daughter of Paravoor Madavanparambu Raman Radhakrishnan, and Usha, Priyanca has roots in Paravoor, Kochi. She did her schooling in Singapore and moved to New Zealand to further her studies. The 41-year-old, who holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies, has been active in politics with the Labour Party since 2004. She is a firm advocate of people whose voices are often unheard, be it women survivors of domestic violence or migrant workers who have been exploited.

She was elected as a Member of Parliament in 2017 and appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities in 2019. Priyanca’s husband, Richard, is an IT employee. Clad in a sari, Priyanca had shared pictures coinciding with the Diwali celebrations in her constituency in Maungakiekie, Auckland, on the eve of her elevation as a cabinet minister.

Priyanca became a household name in Kerala during Onam when she went live with Jacinda to extend Onam wishes.

Kerala Minister for Health, Social Welfare and Women and Child Development, KK Shailaja, congratulated Priyanca on Twitter. "Congratulations to Priyanca Radhakrishnan, who is given charge for social development, youth welfare and the volunteer sector in the @jacindaardern Cabinet. Priyanca is a native of Paravur, Ernakulam. This is the first time an Indian has become a minister in New Zealand," she wrote.

Among the 20 members of Jacinda's cabinet, there are eight women and three members from sexual and gender minority communities.

After swearing in, Priyanka posted on Facebook: “Today has been an incredibly special day. I'm feeling a lot of things including an overwhelming sense of privilege to become part of our Government. Huge thanks to everyone who has taken the time to message/call/text congratulatory messages- thank you all. Humbled to be appointed a Minister and I'm looking forward to working with an incredible line up of Ministerial and caucus colleagues this term.”

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