Ardern shakes up cabinet amid gang woes

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shaken up her cabinet in the hope of improving her government's response to gang violence.

Ms Ardern announced the departure of two long-serving MPs on Monday, using the vacancies as the premise for a ministerial reshuffle.

Departing politics will be speaker Trevor Mallard - first elected in 1984 - and Kris Faafoi, who shouldered the justice, immigration and broadcasting portfolios.

The prime minister also made the decision to strip Poto Williams of her police portfolio, saying she had "lost focus" and would be moved to conservation and disability issues.

"Poto is a capable minister and retains my confidence. That's why she is still in cabinet," Ms Ardern said.

"What we have both agreed though is that the focus on the portfolio where it needs to be has been lost in recent times ... with the current narrative around the portfolio. We need to get back to those basics."

Gang-driven crime is on the rise in Auckland, which has been tied by the opposition National party to Ms Williams as an underperforming minister.

Into the breach goes Chris Hipkins, the leader of the house and one of Ms Ardern's closest allies, who was previously handled the COVID-19 portfolio.

Mr Hipkins is handing that portfolio across the cabinet table to Ayesha Verrall, an infectious diseases specialist.

Mr Faafoi's portfolio has been shared among existing cabinet members, with Michael Wood adding immigration and Willie Jackson taking broadcasting.

Kiritapu Allan, who took a leave of absence last year after a cervical cancer diagnosis, has been given the justice ministry.

Mr Faafoi's departure has allowed Priyanca Radhakrishnan to step into cabinet.

"I take the job of balancing new talent with experience really seriously," Ms Ardern said, saying she intended on making another shake-up in early 2023, ahead of an election expected late that year.

The departure of Mr Mallard also follows opposition calls for him to go.

The 67-year-old has polarised as speaker, coming under fierce scrutiny for his handling of an anti-mandate occupation of parliament grounds in February.

As speaker and responsible for the land, he played annoying music - including Baby Shark and an off-key recorder version of My Heart Will Go On - over loudspeakers in an attempt to drive away protesters.

The move - which ran contrary to police advice - emboldened the occupation, which lasted 24 days and ended in violence and arson.

Earlier this month, TVNZ conducted a poll that showed just 17 per cent of Kiwis supported his speakership.

Ms Ardern said he would take up a European diplomatic posting, previously reported to be New Zealand's ambassador to Ireland, later this year.

Labour will nominate deputy Adrian Rurawhe as the next speaker.

The departure of Mr Mallard and Mr Faafoi means two new Labour MPs will fill their places in parliament.

Defence veteran and Cantabrian Dan Rosewarne, and Soraya Peke-Mason, a councillor from Ratana, will enter parliament without by-elections.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting