Nanaia Mahuta: Meet New Zealand’s newest foreign minister

New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant women the vote, and now the progressive island nation is making history again by appointing a woman with a facial tattoo as its first female foreign minister.

Nanaia Mahuta – who has a moko kauae, a traditional Maori tattoo on the chin – replaces Winston Peters in the role after he was ousted from parliament in last month’s election.

“I follow in the line of a long legacy of firsts for women, and I hope that many other women of Maori descent, mixed descent, across New Zealand will see this as lifting the ceiling once again on areas that have been very much closed to us in terms of professional opportunities,”
Mahuta said.

She added that she would continue to pursue a “progressive trade agenda” for New Zealand as Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government marks its second term in office after a landslide victory last month.

“What we know more than ever before in the COVID context is that, as a small country, we need to develop our relationships and remain committed to a multilateral, rules-based trade system that works for New Zealand,” she said.

Mahuta’s moko tattoo incorporates the traditional carving patterns of her tribe and marks the anniversary of her father’s death.

“Moko is a statement of identity, like a passport,” the politician told the Guardian.

“I am at a time in my life where I am ready to make a clear statement that this is who I am, and this is my position in New Zealand,” she said.

Mahuta got her tattoo in 2016.


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