The person at the top might be a woman but beyond that there is a bit of women drought in Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's new Government - just one third of her ministers are female.

Ardern has released a list of 16 Cabinet ministers and five ministers outside Cabinet, including all 12 MPs on its current front bench.

Just seven of the 21 are women, six of whom are in Cabinet.

That is fewer than National which had nine in total, including seven inside Cabinet - and was often pilloried by Labour for its lack of representation.


In a Newshub debate during the election campaign, Ardern had said she believed Cabinet should be 50/50 female and male and would make it a target.

However, even the five ministers outside Cabinet chosen by Ardern herself rather than by caucus included just one woman - Meka Whaitiri.

Ardern said she was "spoiled for choice" in terms of talent and experience - but admitted she was disappointed at the gender balance.

She said Labour had set a goal of having a 50/50 split in caucus and was now close to that at 46 per cent.

"We will continue to try and make sure we see that reflected as they come up through roles and responsibilities in caucus and Cabinet."

Labour had a small caucus last term and many of the women in its caucus have just been elected to Parliament and are yet to get experience.

Ardern could not guarantee the role of Minister of Womens' Affairs would be in Cabinet, but that did not mean it was not a priority.

"I will have great ambition though as a woman and as the Prime Minister elect that we will make great gains as a Government on issues like equal pay and making sure we are supporting women in the roles they choose to take, be that in work or carer roles. That will be at the heart of what we do. It will be held by someone who is passionate about the work that they do and I will hold it close to my heart as well."


The Cabinet ministers are elected by the whole caucus, although that is usually on the Prime Minister's recommendation.

In total there will be 28 ministers - including four NZ First ministers inside a 20-strong Cabinet and three Green ministers outside Cabinet. Ardern said it was "unlikely" that would improve the gender balance.

The lineup is likely to leave the likes of Michael Wood and Poto Williams disappointed - especially since Willie Jackson had made the cut despite joining Labour just before the election.

While there are five Maori ministers, only two are in Cabinet - Kelvin Davis and Nanaia Mahuta. Of four Pacific ministers, two are in Cabinet - Jenny Salesa and Carmel Sepuloni.

Of the five Ardern chose outside Cabinet, three are Maori and two Pacific.

Ardern would spend the weekend allocating portfolios to those ministers, including discussions with NZ First leader Winston Peters about which roles his ministers would get. They would be announced next week when Ardern was also likely to reveal her front bench. Likely portfolios include Maori Development and Corrections for Kelvin Davis, Grant Robertson in Finance, Phil Twyford in Housing and Building and Construction, and Chris Hipkins in Education. Economic Development could go to David Parker, who is also likely to be Attorney General. A Regional Development portfolio could also be created for a NZ First MP, such as Peters or Shane Jones.

Ardern said the line-up of portfolios would show a real emphasis on that and infrastructure.

The Green Party's ministerial posts had already been allocated but not yet announced.

Peters has been offered the Deputy Prime Minister's role but is yet to confirm if he will take it. Peters is yet to reveal which of his MPs will be ministers but they are expected to be Peters, Shane Jones, Tracey Martin and Ron Mark with Fletcher Tabuteau as an under-secretary.

Ardern said Cabinet would adhere to the rules of Cabinet collectivity. That means all Cabinet ministers, including NZ First's, would be bound to confidentiality on matters and discussions that took place in Cabinet.

She was looking at splitting the Ministry of Primary Industries back into separate portfolios such as Forestry and Fisheries, saying Labour planned to "beef up" what the government did in forestry, such as setting up a Forestry Service in Rotorua.

Ardern indicated she would keep the arts and culture portfolio for herself but was likely to give up the bulk of the Children portfolio because of the high workload she expected that job to entail. It had always been a priority for her.

She would also stick with the tradition of the Prime Minister being Minister of Security and Intelligence. She would decide later whether to follow National's example and have a separate minister for the GCSB and SIS to deal with operational issues such as considering warrants.


(Yet to be ranked and have portfolios allocated)

Cabinet Ministers

Jacinda Ardern, David Clark, Clare Curran, Kelvin Davis, Chris Hipkins, Iain Lees-Galloway, Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, Stuart Nash, Damien O'Connor, David Parker, Grant Robertson, Jenny Salesa, Carmel Sepuloni, Phil Twyford, Megan Woods.

Ministers outside Cabinet

Kris Faafoi, Peeni Henare, Willie Jackson, Aupito William Sio, Meka Whaitiri.