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Cabinet reshuffle: Prime Minister Chris Hipkins unveils new line-up ...

Hipkins reveals a refreshed Cabinet team as one if his first tasks as PM.

Chris Hipkins holds a post-Cabinet press conference. Video / Mark Mitchell


Senior MP Andrew Little has been demoted and lost his health portfolio while Chris Hipkins has unveiled a new Minister for Auckland in his Cabinet reshuffle.

The Prime Minister fronted his post-Cabinet press conference, only his second in the job, hot off two polls published last night that showed a reversal in political fortunes for Labour under his leadership, now just ahead of National.

As well as naming first-term MP Ayesha Verrall as Minister of Health, Hipkins promoted Mt Roskill MP Michael Wood to Minister for Auckland.

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”Having a senior minister with a focus on the city ensures Auckland has the attention it needs. That’s going to be even more important following the events of recent days,” Hipkins said.

”When Auckland succeeds the country succeeds.”

Hipkins said this would align with his transport portfolio, and the role had even greater importance given the events of the past few days.

”I want to have a Minister with a focus on the city.”

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Hipkins said he wanted him to play a bigger role in the economic team and in Auckland he was the logical choice to lead that.

For more political news and views, listen to On the Tiles, the Herald’s politics podcast

Mahuta loses Local Government

Nanaia Mahuta has lost the controversial Local Government Minister post to Kieran McAnulty, who moves into Cabinet.

Mahuta will remain as Foreign Minister and Hipkins said she had been unable to travel in the beginning in the early days of the role and that had changed now.

On Mahuta’s demotion and what it meant for Māori, Hipkins said she remained an integral part of the team and there were now more Māori MPs on the front bench than when he started the process.

Hipkins said the top team of himself, Sepuloni, Roberston, Davis and Woods is unchanged, adding 2023 would see ongoing costs to businesses.

Grant Roberston would stay Finance Minister, with Hipkins citing his steady hand on the economy shown in the country’s unemployment rate along with other factors.

“The Government hears loud and clear that many New Zealanders and many families are struggling.”

Jan Tinetti becomes Education Minister, moving to number six and picking up the whole portfolio, and picking up child poverty reduction.

Long-term MP Phil Twyford has lost all ministerial responsibility. Hipkins said Twyford understood the need to bring in fresh talent.

He was “philosophical” about it, Hipkins said.

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Little will take over defence from Peeni Henare.

Hipkins said Little had made it clear he would support whatever decision was made, when asked if he was happy to lose the health portfolio.

He said he had “full confidence” in Little, who has dropped seven places in the reshuffle.

Stuart Nash picks up police. When asked about Nash getting back the portfolio, Hipkins said he showed a “certain affinity” for the role.

He said he knew Nash would be “right in there on day one”.

Hipkins, who most recently held the portfolio, said there was a lot of work going on there, particularly around ram raids and gangs. He said he knew Nash would be able to pick that up and hit the ground running.

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Joining McAnulty in Cabinet are new Ministers Ginny Andersen and Barbara Edmonds.

”Ginny will become the Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, Minister for Small Business, Minister for Seniors, Associate Minister of Immigration and Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.”

Barbara Edmonds will become the Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Pacific Peoples, Associate Health Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Housing.

”There are four new Ministers outside of Cabinet; Duncan Webb, Willow-Jean Prime, Rino Tirikatene, and Dr Deborah Russell.

”I want to acknowledge the departing Ministers for their incredible service. To Poto Williams, David Clark, Aupito William Sio, Phil Twyford and of course Jacinda Ardern, thank you.

On all of those who had dropped significantly, Hipkins said none of them had indicated they intended to stand down. There was an expectation they would stick around for another four years.

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He deferred when asked if they had made that commitment before learning their new rankings.

The reshuffle, which was forecast by former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year, was announced internally to the Labour caucus this morning before a meeting of Cabinet.

Government weather response

The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today.

“Cabinet today agreed that, given the severity of the event, a further $1 million contribution be made. Cabinet wishes to be proactive and get ahead of any formal application from the Council.

“This is the most significant contribution to a Mayoral Relief Fund ever and ensures that funding is being provided to the affected communities as quickly as possible,” Kieran McAnulty said.

Financial contributions to councils’ MRFs are typically made in the immediate aftermath of an emergency with the expectation that the local authority distributes funding to the community as it sees fit. The previous highest was $300,000, given to Nelson last year.

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“I anticipate this will be welcome support to the numerous community-run centres across the city, as this could assist them in their support of their communities. The fund will be administered by Auckland Council, however this funding could assist to provide support in dealing with things such as providing essential needs like food and clothing, as well as cleaning up damaged properties in areas where support is not otherwise available.

“Mayoral Relief Funds help communities bounce back after an emergency. Local communities and councils understand where the immediate needs are and how to help whānau, community organisations and marae.

“The local community knows the needs best and it’s only appropriate they determine how best to apply these funds.

“I signalled on Saturday when I announced our initial $100,000 contribution, that more was expected to follow. After having seen first-hand the damage, I am pleased to be able to support the flood-affected communities.

“This is in addition to other government financial support provided to the region, such as the Ministry of Social Development civil defence payments.

“The focus at the moment, for all those involved, is on continuing to respond to the emergency event. Central government continues to be available to support the local response teams as needed,” McAnulty said.

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Northland became the third region to declare a state of emergency. The declaration was made at 1pm today and will last for seven days. It follows Auckland declaring a state of emergency on Friday night and Waitomo on Saturday night.

Auckland has experienced record rainfall with widespread flooding creating hazards for people and properties since Friday. So far this year the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research [Niwa] said Auckland has already recorded 38 per cent of its usual annual rainfall - and 769 per cent of its average January rainfall.

Hundreds of homes have already been deemed uninhabitable, and it is predicted the Auckland flooding could cost the insurance industry close to $1 billion in claims.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown declared a state of emergency for region on Friday night, which came into force immediately and will last seven days. “Stay home if you can,” Brown said of the latest severe weather. “The ground is so saturated, that if anything [the coming rain] could be worse than Friday.”

The Ministry of Education has directed all Auckland schools to close for physical on-site attendance until Friday, opening after Waitangi weekend. Schools and kura can open remotely for distance learning.

Mayor Brown has faced intense scrutiny over his handling of the Auckland floods and revealed a full independent review will be conducted into the council, Government and Civil Defence response to the weather crisis.

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The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is also on standby at two bases in the Auckland region to assist if required.

The Government has already pledged $100,000 for Auckland flood relief - the most it can do without Cabinet approval, with more support expected to be announced today or tomorrow when Hipkins visits Auckland.

The new Cabinet
  • Chris Hipkins: Prime Minister, Minister for National Security and Intelligence Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services
  • Carmel Sepuloni: Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Social Development and Employment Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs (Pacific Region)
  • Kelvin Davis: Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister for Children, Minister of Corrections, Associate Minister of Education (Māori Education)
  • Grant Robertson: Minister of Finance, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Leader of the House
  • Jan Tinetti: Minister of Education, Minister for Women, Minister for Child Poverty Reduction
  • Michael Wood: Minister of Immigration, Minister of Transport, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Minister for Auckland , Associate Minister of Finance
  • Ayesha Verrall: Minister of Health, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation
  • Willie Jackson: Minister for Broadcasting and Media, Minister for Māori Development, Associate Minister for ACC, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (Māori Employment)
  • Kiri Allan: Minister of Justice, Minister for Regional Development, Associate Minister of Transport
  • Megan Woods: Minister of Housing, Minister for Infrastructure, Minister of Energy and Resources, Minister for Building and Construction, Associate Minister of Finance
  • Stuart Nash: Minister for Economic Development, Minister of Forestry, Minister of Police, Minister for Oceans and Fisheries
  • Damien O’Connor: Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister for Land Information, Minister for Trade and Export Growth
  • Peeni Henare: Minister for ACC Minister of Tourism Associate Minister for the Environment Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health)
  • Andrew Little: Minister of Defence, Minister Responsible for the GCSB, Minister Responsible for the NZSIS, Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Lead Coordination Minister for the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission’s Report into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques
  • David Parker: Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Minister of Revenue, Associate Minister of Finance, Minister for Whānau Ora
  • Nanaia Mahuta: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Associate Minister for Māori Development
  • Priyanca Radhakrishnan: Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Minister for Disability Issues, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety
  • Kieran McAnulty: Minister for Emergency Management Minister of Local Government Minister for Racing Minister for Rural Communities Deputy Leader of the House
  • Ginny Andersen: Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, Minister for Seniors, Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister of Immigration, Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
  • Barbara Edmonds: Minister of Internal Affairs Minister for Pacific Peoples Associate Minister of Health (Pacific Peoples) Associate Minister of Housing
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