New Zealand’s First Pacific Deputy Prime Minister is Sworn In

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Hon Carmel Sepuloni wears Samoa and Tongan traditional attire at the swearing in ceremony. Photo: NZ Government House.

Honourable Carmel Sepuloni, of Samoan and Tongan decent has been sworn in as New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, marking an historical first Pacific Islander to be appointed to the role.

Hon Carmel Sepuloni is prayed over by Pacific elders before the ceremony. Photo: NZ Labour.

After accepting the resignation of the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Dame Cindy held a ceremony to appoint the Rt Hon Chris Hipkins as New Zealand’s 41st Prime Minister, and Hon Carmel Sepuloni as the new Deputy Prime Minister.

Sepuloni’s family members and colleagues were in attendance at the ballroom of Government House for the ceremony. Also there in support was Labour’s Aupito Sio Williams.

Hon Carmel Sepuloni is sworn in as NZ Deputy Prime Minister alongside Rt Hon Chris Hipkins as New Zealand’s 41st Prime Minister. Photo: NZ Government House.

Sepuloni wore Samoa and Tonga traditional attire – including a fine mat around her body and a red ula fala as worn by Samoans on special occasions.

Hon Carmel Sepuloni’s Samoan-Tongan father was a migrant freezing worker, known to have become a staunch unionist. He is from the village of Vailele in Samoa.

Her mother was a Pākehā from a conservative farming family. Hon Carmel Sepuloni has two sons. She married writer and musician Daren Kamali in 2018.

Sepuloni first entered Parliament after the 2008 general election as a List MP, becoming the first MP of Tongan decent to  enter New Zealand’s Parliament.

She is the MP for Kelston and has been New Zealand’s Minister for Social Development since 2017.

Sepuloni was a teacher, with teaching experience in Samoa and with Auckland Youth in alternative education programmes.

Prior to entering Parliament, she worked in the tertiary sector as a literacy educator, a student mentor adviser, an equity manager, and a Pacific health research project manager.

Sepuloni was born and raised in Waitara, Taranaki, and attended New Plymouth Girls’ High School.

She has lived in Auckland since 1996 when she moved to attend the Auckland College of Education and University of Auckland where she attained a Diploma of Teaching and a Bachelor of Education. She also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Education.

Read more about NZs first Pacific Deputy Prime Minister in this personal and beautiful Coco Talanoa with Carmel Sepuloni by the Coconut TV.

Congratulations to Hon Carmel Sepuloni. Ia manuia tele lou tulai mai i le tofi. Ia maua sou finagalo i upu fai a Aotearoa, ma faagaganaina oe e Le Atua soifua.