Labour first-term MP Grant Robertson has shot up to the front bench in the party's reshuffle announced today, replacing Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta, who has asked for a lighter work load because she is having another baby.
Mr Robertson takes over the heavyweight health portfolio off of Ruth Dyson, who drops a place and picks up the conservation, state services and immigration portfolios.
There are no other newcomers to the front bench, with the current crop just moved around. Shane Jones, demoted because of his use of his ministerial credit card, has been promoted to just outside the front bench (top 12), and he has picked up the transport, infrastructure and associate Maori affairs portfolios.
He previously did not have any portfolios.
Mr Goff said Shane Jones had a chance to prove himself and eventually get back to the front bench.
"Shane has enormous talent and skills. I've given him hard portoflios ... this is a chance for Shane really to prove himself," he said.
"In this line-up I see the core of the incoming Labour Cabinet."
Mr Goff would not say that Ruth Dyson had not been doing a good job in the health area, but he said Mr Robertson would bring a "fresh pair of eyes" to the portfolio.
He said Parekura Horomia, dropped from number five to 10 but retaining the Maori Affairs portfolio, was part of a generation of Maori leaders that would eventually be replaced by new Maori leaders such as Shane Jones and Kelvin Davis.
"[Parekura] would himself acknowledge that after a further term in Government, he'll probably be looking at moving on," Mr Goff said.
Other winners from the reshuffle include policy guru David Parker, promoted to number four, and with energy and associate finance portfolios.
Trevor Mallard picks up the role of shadow leader of the house instead of Darren Hughes, who takes Mr Mallard's education portfolio in place of transport.
Ms Mahuta was promoted to the cross benches last year, along with Charles Chauvel, after the demotions of Chris Carter and Shane Jones, following the release of ministerial credit card details.
Mr Chauvel picks up the justice portfolio in the reshuffle.
Labour leader Phil Goff said the it was a balanced approach to the reshuffle.
Sue Moroney, Jacinda Ardern, Su'a William Sio and Phil Twyford are being promoted to the second bench.