First Cook Islander In NZ Cabinet

Minister for Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary Sector, Associate Minister for Children and Associate Minister for Social Housing

By Florence Syme-Buchanan

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, December 19, 2016) – Te Atatu-based National List-MP Alfred Ngaro made history over the weekend when he became the first Cook Islander to be appointed a Cabinet minister in a New Zealand government.

It’s an achievement that will please many Cook Islanders living in New Zealand who’ll see the achievement of Kiwi-born Ngaro as being one for Cook Islanders everywhere.

Fifty-one-year-old Ngaro will be sworn in on December 20 (NZ time) as minister for Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary Sector.

He will also become the associate minister for Children and associate minister for Social Housing.

Alfred Ngaro first entered New Zealand politics in 2011 as a List MP for the National Party. He is currently chairman of the Social Services select committee and served for over two years as a member of the Commerce Select Committee.

Alfred Ngaro is descended from Aitutaki, Pukapuka and Mangaia. His parents, father Daniel Ngaro of Pukapuka and Aitutaki and Mangaian mother Toko Kirianu settled in West Auckland where Ngaro was raised and attended school.

 His parents worked hard, his Mum a cleaner and Dad a labourer, to give Ngaro and his siblings schooling and training opportunities.

In his new ministerial roles, he will be focusing on social housing and vulnerable children.

"I think social justice has a number of different meanings," he said.

“It doesn't matter who you are, you should have the same rights to education, to health, and employment opportunities.

"So to me, I am a big believer in that.

“I think what's also important is that I come from a working-class background. So we're of the belief that we work hard for what we get,” he said.

“We didn't come here for handouts, we came for opportunity. And all we ask for is the same opportunity as anyone else."

Ngaro first trained as an electrician. At his mother’s insistence, he attended the Bible College of New Zealand based in Henderson completing a degree in theology.

He is married to Moka Fuemana, a Samoan-Niuean and they have four children and two grandchildren.

Ngaro has held leading roles in a wide range of community development and governance initiatives in New Zealand including National Anti-Violence Taskforce, Auckland District Health Board and Pacific Advisory Committee Auckland City Council. He is an ambassador for the White Ribbon campaign.

Ngaro was instrumental in getting Cook Islands World War One soldiers formally recognised by the New Zealand government for their role during the Great War.

He is actively involved in Cook Islands communities in Auckland.

Cook Islands News
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