After her victory in general elections, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed the country’s first indigenous female foreign minister, with a facial tattoo.

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who is a Maori – a minority group in New Zealand – wears a traditional tattoo on her chin, called a moko kauae. The Maori tattoos are usually bestowed on high-ranking  women as a reflection of their standing or power in the community.

Four years ago, she made history by becoming country’s first female member of the parliament to wear a Maori chin tattoo, and this year she will take on the role of foreign minister.


“Moko is a statement of identity, like a passport,” said Mahuta. “I am at a time in my life where I am ready to make a clear statement that this is who I am, and this is my position in New Zealand.”

Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum congratulated Mahuta on her appointment as foreign minister. Rukuwai Tipene-Allen, a political journalist for Maori Television, said Mahuta’s appointment was hugely significant. “The first face that people see at an international level is someone who speaks, looks and sounds like a Maori”


PM Ardern, whose center-left Labour Party was reelected in the elections last month, has one of the most diverse parliament in the world. Almost half of the country’s lawmakers are women, which is higher than the global average of 25%. Moreover, she has also appointed the first openly gay deputy prime minister.

“This is a cabinet and an executive that is based on merit that also happen to be incredibly diverse and I am proud of that,” Ardern said Monday as she announced her cabinet.