For newly promoted Government Minister Kris Faafoi, looking after state housing is about paying it forward.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday elevated Faafoi to Cabinet as part of a reshuffle, describing him as a safe pair of hands behind a swathe of portfolios in her Government.

The 43-year-old former television reporter is now tasked with sorting out public housing as an Associate Minister, on top of ministerial responsibility for Broadcasting, Government Digital Services and Consumer Affairs.

The new role, Faafoi said, was personal, and about giving people a chance at a stable home, community and education.


"This is core to who I am, because I grew up in one of these houses," the MP for Mana told reporters.

"That's my own story and in a very simple way it's what my job is. To make sure there are those opportunities for those New Zealanders who are in the same position … It's a privilege to be given that responsibility."

Kris Faafoi has long been considered a safe pair of hands behind a number of Government portfolios. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Kris Faafoi has long been considered a safe pair of hands behind a number of Government portfolios. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Fellow Labour MP Poto Williams, meanwhile, has been made a Minister outside Cabinet, with responsibility for the Community and Voluntary Sector as well as associate roles in Immigration, Christchurch Regeneration and Social Development.

It means there's now five Pasifika Ministers in the Executive, along with Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni, Building Minister Jenny Salesa and Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio.

"I know my own Cook Island, and the wider Pacific, community are very excited to know their desires and aspirations are actually going to be expressed at the top table," Williams said.

"I am actually very proud of that," Faafoi, whose parents are from Tokelau, added.

Williams' new role also taps into her history: decades spent working in the community sector, in areas such as mental health and domestic violence. She's previously served as Assistant Speaker in the House.

Faafoi's promotion was widely tipped, but he said he had taken nothing for granted in the lead-up to the reshuffle.


"You never know it's coming until the words are uttered," he said.

"One of my sons saw who was calling on my phone and told me I should probably take that."

"It's pretty exciting, especially when your phone comes up with Prime Minister on the screen," Williams said.