Priyanca Radhakrishnan becomes first New Zealand minister with Indian roots

Priyanca was sworn in as Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s new cabinet.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan
Priyanca Radhakrishnan
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Priyanca Radhakrishnan, who has roots in the Indian state of Kerala, became the first from the country to be sworn as a Minister in New Zealand, as part of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s new cabinet. Priyanca, aged 41 years, became the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

Priyanca was born in Chennai and brought up in Singapore. She has roots at Paravur, Kochi, where her grandfather was a medical professional as well as a Communist.

A two-time Member of Parliament (MP) from Auckland, Priyanca went to New Zealand to pursue her higher studies. She has been active in politics with the Labour Party since 2004. Priyanca became a Kiwi national, hailing from Christchurch.

She shot to prominence and became a household name in Kerala last Onam when she went live with Ardern to extend her greetings on the occasion. She continues to love Malayalam songs and said that the singer she most admires is Malayalam’s legendary singer KJ Yesudas.

Watch: PM Jacinda and Priyanca wish Onam

The Kerala Minister for Health, Social Welfare and Women and Child Development, KK Shailaja, congratulated Priyanca on the occasion. "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," Minister Shailaja wrote on Twitter.

Priyanca has been celebrating this Deepavali with a women's group, according to her Facebook page. "The victory of good over evil is one that resonates across communities. It's particularly poignant now as the world continues to grapple with a surge in COVID-19 cases & further lockdowns. It's definitely worth celebrating the fact that we can gather in large numbers here in NZ. When I spoke, I stressed the importance of continued vigilance though- stay home if you're sick, wash your hands and use the COVID tracer app when you're out and about,” she wrote.

New Zealand had in June declared itself COVID-19-free, and lifted almost all of its restrictions put in place to curb the virus. Even though new cases popped up later, the country has managed to keep the virus in check-- there are 77 active cases as of Sunday in New Zealand.

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

(With IANS input)

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