First New Zealand minister of Indian origin grew up in S'pore


Sulaiman Daud | November 16, 2020, 12:32 PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, fresh off an impressive general election victory, has appointed the first Minister of Indian origin to her cabinet.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is a 41-year-old who was born in Kerala, India, and grew up in Singapore.

She worked as a social worker in New Zealand before entering politics and joining the Labour Party. In the recent 2020 general election, she was elected Member of Parliament for Maungakiekie by a small margin of 635 votes.

Priyanca will now serve in the cabinet in the roles of:

  • Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities
  • Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
  • Minister for Youth
  • Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment

Priyanca hails from a Malayali family. Her father worked in Singapore as a port engineer and she came to Singapore for her studies, according to Tamil Murasu.

In an interview with CNA which was aired on Nov. 16, Priyanca recalled the diversity of Singapore's multi-cultural society while growing up here.

Journey to becoming a Minister

In 2004, she attended Massey University in New Zealand, and got involved in student politics there.

She met her husband, Ivan Richardson, while she was working with an NGO assisting domestic violence survivors and migrant workers, according to Yahoo India.

In 2017, she was was selected from a party list to join Parliament and spoke Malayalam in her maiden speech.

In a Facebook post on Nov. 2, Priyanca said she was "humbled to have been appointed a Minister", and later spoke of the need to remove barriers for everyone and recognise the skills and talents of the youth of New Zealand.

Top image from Priyanca Radhakrishnan's Facebook page.

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