Tom's take on the Cabinet reshuffle: what does it mean?


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a Cabinet reshuffle in the past week. This means a rotation of Government Ministers in both portfolio and ranking. This reshuffle was much needed as the government has been down two Ministers, following the resignation of both Clare Curran and Meka Whaitiri.

To see the full press release on the reshuffle click here, otherwise here is a brief overview of the reshuffle and what it means.

Here are the changes:

Hon. Kris Faafoi

Minister Faafoi has been promoted to Cabinet and will take on the portfolio of Government Digital Services to go along with his existing portfolios of Commerce, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media. He will hand off the Civil Defence portfolio.

Poto Williams

(Soon-to-be Minister) Williams has been promoted from Assistant Speaker of the House to a Minister outside of Cabinet, becoming the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector as well as Associate Minister for Social Development, Immigration and Greater Christchurch Regeneration.

Hon. Megan Woods

Minister Woods will pick up the Housing portfolio taking responsibility for the Governments KiwiBuild program.

Michael Wood

Mr Wood will become the Senior Government whip taking over from Hon. Ruth Dyson. He will step down as the Chair of the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Ms Radhakrishnan will become the Parliamentary Private Secretary for Ethnic Affairs.

Willow-Jean Prime

Ms Prime will become the Parliamentary Private Secretary for Local Government.

Duncan Webb

Mr Webb will step up as Chair of the Environment Select Committee.

Deborah Russell

Ms Russell has been promoted to chair of the Finance and Expenditure committee.

Hon. Phil Twyford

Minister Twyford loses the Housing portfolio but picks up Economic Development while retaining both Transport and Urban Development.

Hon. Grant Robertson

Minister Robertson adds responsibility for the Earthquake Commission to his list of portfolios which include Finance and Sport and Recreation.

Hon. Peeni Henare

Minister Henare picks up responsibility for Civil Defence from Kris Faafoi.

Tom’s Take:

There are no real surprises following the Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle. While there have been some portfolio changes all Ministers retain their ranking within Cabinet while Hon Kris Faafoi is the only Cabinet edition.


It is notable that the Government has chosen to appoint two Parliamentary Private Secretaries. A Parliamentary Private Secretary is essentially a Member of Parliament appointed to assist a Minister with their portfolio.

It is uncommon to see these roles filled and it is worth noting that they are both practically and constitutionally different to the role of Parliamentary Under Secretary. Unlike an Under Secretary, a Private Secretary is not bound by the convention of collective cabinet responsibility meaning they are open to criticize the Government’s actions.

MP’s who are appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretaries do not receive any extra funding.

To many it comes as no surprise that Hon Phil Twyford loses the Housing portfolio. While some see this is a demotion based on the failure of KiwiBuild, Twyford keeps his number five ranking and gains the Economic Development portfolio from David Parker. In short, it’s fair to say further than the public perception, there isn’t too much to read into here.

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Possibly the biggest surprise of the reshuffle is Hon Grant Robertson taking responsibility for the Earthquake Commission (EQC). Robertson now holds three portfolios including Finance, which will undoubtedly grow what is already a massive workload.

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