Jenny Salesa, world’s first Tongan-born Cabinet Minister
In New Zealand Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of her Executive team today, there was one that created a new world first.
Jenny Salesa, MP for Manukau East, will not only become New Zealand’s first Tongan-born, Tongan-speaking Cabinet Minister, her appointment is historically significant as it now also makes her the world’s first Tongan-born woman Cabinet Minister.
“I am immensely proud, as an immigrant and as a Pacific woman, to show that anyone who comes here can dream big and can be successful, through perseverance and hard work, at whatever they set out to do,” Mrs Salesa said in a Labour press statement.
“New Zealand was a land of opportunity for me and as a Cabinet Minister I can play a part in ensuring it remains so for everyone who chooses to live here”, says Jenny Salesa.
Mrs Salesa who is married to Samoan academic Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa is the new Minister for Building and Construction, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Associate Minister for Housing and Urban Development, for Associate Health and Associate Education.
“I am honoured to be appointed as a Minister in this ambitious Labour-led Government, which has the mandate to tackle New Zealand’s housing crisis, the recent years of funding cuts and neglect in health and education and to ensure that economic growth delivers for all Kiwis.
“It is a huge responsibility and I am excited to play a role in building a better New Zealand in which all New Zealanders will thrive.
“I am looking forward to briefings from the pertinent government departments about the key issues in my portfolios and knuckling down to work.”
- Jenny Salesa is also the first Cabinet Minister from the Manukau East electorate.
- Jenny Salesa is affiliated to Lotofoa,Ha’apai and Nuku’alofa, Tonga, and Tefisi, Vava’u. She moved to New Zealand when she was 16 to further her education. Her commitment to warm, dry affordable housing springs from her family’s experiences of homelessness in their first 2–3 years in New Zealand, which were spent moving from family to family in South Auckland and living in overcrowded conditions. She attended the University of Auckland, graduating with degrees in Education and Law (BA/LLB). While there, she helped found the Pacific Island Law Students’ Association (PILSA). She had over 20 years’ experience in policy, as a health specialist, as a funder and senior official in the Health and Education sectors as well as community development in New Zealand and the US before entering Parliament in 2014.
- More on Jenny Salesa here.
- Cabinet Ministers will be sworn in tomorrow, Thursday 25 October.