Kerala origin Priyanka makes India proud, she is first New Zealand minister with Indian roots

An Indian-origin politician by the name of Priyanca Radhakrishnan has been roped in as New Zealand’s minister as part of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s new cabinet.

The 41-year-old woman has created history by becoming the first Indian-Kiwi woman to become a minister in New Zealand. 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. 

Radhakrishnan was one of five new ministers inducted into freshly reelected Labour Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who also unveiled a revamped cabinet that she has described as “incredibly diverse”.

A two-time Member of Parliament (MP) from Auckland, Priyanca moved to New Zealand to pursue her higher studies. She has been working with the Labour Party since 2004. Priyanca became a Kiwi national, hailing from Christchurch. She later worked for the well-being of the Indian community in Auckland as a social worker. In 2006, Radhakrishnan joined the left-leaning Labour party in NZ and in 2017, became an MP in Ardern’s party. A two-time MP, Radhakrishnan has spent 14 years as a Labour Party leader.

She rose 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 likes Malayalam songs and her favourite singer is Malayalam’s legendary singer KJ Yesudas.

Soon, her tweet was flooded with appreciation for making India proud. The Kerala Minister for Health, Social Welfare and Women and Child Development, KK Shailaja, showered praises on 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 will be celebrating this Diwali 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.

As soon as news of Radhakrishnan’s induction as minister went viral, several Indian leaders and politicians across party lines took to social media to congratulate her.

Taking to Twitter, Congress’s Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor congratulated her and wrote, “Keralites (were) taking great pride in this news!” Kerala’s health minister Shailaja Teacher also took to social media to laud the Kerala native.

Dharam Sikarwar
Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.