New Zealand now has three women in the country's top jobs - Governor-General, Chief Justice and Prime Minister.

It is the second time all three jobs have been held by women - Dame Silvia Cartwright was Governor-General, Helen Clark was Prime Minister and Dame Sian Elias Chief Justice from 2001 to 2006.

Dame Sian Elias has remained Chief Justice, and Dame Patsy Reddy became Governor-General last year.

National Council of Women of Women president Vanisa Dhiru said having women in positions of power was positive, but New Zealand did not yet have gender equality.


"Having women in these positions is definitely a step in the right direction."

She pointed out only about one in three MPs were women, and inequality remained an issue in the private sector.

Of the 120 MPs elected or returned to Parliament this election, 46 were women.

Jacinda Ardern would be just the second elected female prime minister, Dhiru observed.

"It should just continually happen, it shouldn't be an issue and we shouldn't be having this conversation."

Ardern would be New Zealand's 40th prime minister, but just the third woman, after Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark.

Dhiru said she hoped the female-led government would help increase gender equality.

"We're hoping that any new government would be encouraging gender equality."


Dame Patsy Reddy was the third woman to be appointed Governor-General, and Dame Sian Elias the first female Chief Justice.

In 2001, the attorney-general and leader of the opposition were also female.

Leadership positions in business were less often held by women.

Women made up fewer than 20 per cent of company board members in New Zealand, and just one of the country's 50 largest companies had a female chief executive.

Ardern has said she believed in pay equity and Labour's policy was to have an equal balance of men and women on its party list.

"In 2017 there should be no such thing as a gender pay gap in New Zealand," she said at an equal pay rally in August.

"I am committing that Labour will not rest until we have pay equity in New Zealand."

Dhiru said cultural change was required to have gender equality.

"I think it's changing, but we need to see more people calling out inequality in new Zealand society."

She added that gender was no longer binary, and equality was needed for all.

"There are a number of genders and they all need to be equal."