New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has introduced five new members into her cabinet and one of them is Priyanca Radhakrishnan. It is a proud moment for India as Radhakrishnan is the first Indian-origin minister in New Zealand’s cabinet. She will be the Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities; Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector; and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment.
Arden's new cabinet is incredibly diverse and includes 8 women and 3 LGBTQ community members among the 20 cabinet ministers. NZ’s deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will be the country’s first openly gay man to hold the role while Nanaia Mahuta will be the first indigenous female foreign minister.
So who is Priyanca Radhakrishnan and how did she end up in New Zealand's cabinet? Hailing from Ernakulam, Kerala, she is the daughter of R. Radhakrishnan, an IIT-Kanpur alumnus. “She is hardworking and has excellent oratory skills. We encouraged and supported her decision to join politics in New Zealand. Today, I spoke to her after hearing about her new role. She is thrilled. She is the first Indian to become a Minister in the New Zealand Government. But I have advised her to not forget the family even while pursuing a career in politics,” the proud father said in an interview.
Encouraged by her parents to actively participate in politics, Priyanca has been a member of the Labour Party since 2006. She was previously working with an NGO that helped women survivors of domestic violence as well as migrant workers, and later became an MP in Arden’s Labour Party in 2017. Her new post may come as a surprise to us but Priyanca and her father had seen it coming. “The post of Minister was not totally unexpected. We believed that she would get some greater role in the government, and the Prime Minister had indicated to her about it,” said Radhakrishnan.
Radhakrishnan completed his post-graduation in civil engineering from IIT Kanpur and moved to Singapore in 1972, where he worked as a port engineer. Radhakrishnan and his wife, Usha, returned to India in 1999 and settled permanently in Chennai. Priyanca, 41, was born in India in 1979 and completed her schooling from Singapore.
She later moved to New Zealand to pursue Development Studies from Massey University, NZ, While studying at the university, she made her political debut when got elected as the International Students’ Officer of the Massey University Students Association. The senior leaders of the Labour Party saw true potential in Priyanca, and encouraged her to stay back and further pursue politics.
Besides her parents, Priyanca family includes husband, Richardson, and their two rescue dogs. She met her IT professional husband while working as a social worker. The couple currently reside in Auckland and have decided against having kids as they wish to prioritise their work and career.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan will be sworn in on Friday as the new Cabinet Minister. We wish her all the very best for her new role, and thank her for making the Indian community across the globe so proud!
Featured Image: Instagram