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Poto Williams to retire ahead of next NZ election

Wednesday 14 December 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Features, National, Politics

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Poto Williams to retire ahead of next NZ election
Minister Munokoapoto (Poto) Williams of New Zealand and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown in 2021. SUPPLIED/21072905.

New Zealand-born Cook Islander Munokoapoto (Poto) Williams is one of the Labour MPs stepping down at the next election.

Poto Williams in 2019 became the first of Cook Islands descent to hold a ministerial role in New Zealand government when she was appointed Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

After the 2020 election she became Minister of Police but was replaced by Chris Hipkins this year under intense scrutiny from the Opposition amid a spike in youth crime and claims she was “soft on crime”.

She is now the Minister of Conservation and Minister for Disability Issues, as well as Associate Minister for Children.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Minister Williams brought her experience in the community sector to Cabinet, working across groups as diverse as the construction sector through to the disability community. She also did a huge amount of work on the implementation of gun reforms.”

Williams became an MP in 2013 after winning a by-election in the staunchly-Labour Christchurch East electorate, becoming the South Island’s first elected Pasifika MP.

In an interview with Cook Islands News after the 2020 election, Williams said: “As an electorate MP I see every day, the struggle of our people to find adequate, affordable housing and how precarious housing options can be for those with health, mental health and disability issues. I will do all I can to support the Minister to provide decent housing for our people.”

Williams also thanked her Cook Islands community for their guidance and support.

“We, as Cook Islanders have an opportunity that we have not had before, to build strong working and mutually beneficial relationships across our two nations based on trust and kinship and the desire to get great outcomes for our people, wherever they choose to reside.”

The other retiring Labour MPs include Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Foreign Affairs Minister Aupito William Sio, Minister for State Owned Enterprises of New Zealand David Clark and backbench MPs Jamie Strange, Marja Lubeck and Paul Eagle.

“I want to thank them personally for their work and for being part of our team. They have all made an important contribution to Government and the lives of New Zealanders,” Ardern said.

“These decisions come in the midst of Labour’s selection process for seats in the 2023 elections. MPs have made these decisions in good time to allow succession planning for both Cabinet and caucus.

“These retirements will have no immediate impact on Cabinet with a reshuffle not scheduled until early next year.

  • CI News/NZ Herald