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Labour MPs take on new spokesperson roles in opposition.

Photo/Labour Party website


Labour Pacific MPs take on leading roles on opposition benches

In the red corner, a diminished Pacific caucus have been assigned spokesperson roles

Khalia Strong
Khalia Strong
30 November 2023, 9:56am
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Labour’s Pacific MPs are taking on new titles on the opposition benches.

The Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins announced his shadow cabinet this morning, with the largest Pacific bloc seen in opposition.

They include former deputy prime minister Carmel Sepuloni, who, along with being deputy leader of the Labour Party, will be the spokesperson for Social Development, Pacific Peoples, Auckland Issues and Child Poverty Redution.

PMN election specialist Justin Latif says Sepuloni will be formidable in opposition, having parliamentary experience in and out of government.

“She’s really good in the debating chamber. I expect her to have some really chunky portfolios, she’ll probably be wanting to take Nicola Willis on around social investment, and she’ll also be looking at some of the issues around the social development portfolio.”

Former Minister for Pacific Peoples, Barbara Edmonds, is the party's new spokesperson for economic development, infrastructure and associate finance.


Latif says these appointments are largely based on an MP's previous experience.

“Barbara Edmonds is actually one of the more qualified people within the whole government in terms of revenue and our taxation system, she’s worked for the IRD, worked for treasury ... she'll be able to really challenge the government on a lot of the stuff because she basically knows it in and out."

Labour leader Chris Hipkins says the team is "highly experienced and energised and looking forward to getting back into Parliament".

“I am incredibly proud and humbled to have this team alongside me as we take up the important job of Opposition.

“With the start this coalition has had, it’s clear New Zealanders will need an Opposition that stands up for their values and what is right."

Outside of the top ten, Palmerston North MP Tangi Utikere will hold the chief whip role, along with being spokesperson for transport, oceans and fisheries and associate education, with a Pacific focus.

Panmure-Ōtāhuhu MP Jenny Salesa has been named the spokesperson for ethnic communities and customs, and Lemauga Lydia Sosene will take on internal affairs, associate Pacific peoples and associate social development and employment.

The Labour Party ranks were decimated in the election, losing almost half of their 65 seats from 2020. Labour’s reduced votes meant the exit of Pacific MP’s Dr Anae Neru Leavasa from Takanini, Ōtaki electorate MP Terisa Ngobi and list MPs Anahila Kanongata’a and Dan Rosewarne. Retiring MPs Aupito William Sio and Poto Williams also reduced the Pacific representation, along with Kris Faafoi earlier in the term.

Meanwhile, the Green Party has doubled this Pacific representation, with Fa’anana Efeso Collins joining Teanau Tuiono.

Tuiono will be the spokesperson for the Pacific region, education, workplace relations and safety, space, national security and intelligence, and overseas development assistance.

Fa'anana will have local government, Treaty of Waitangi negotiations, ACC, Pacific Peoples, commerce, seniors, veterans and sport and recreation.