Fresh faces also promoted in Little’s lineup

Labour leader Andrew Little says his new caucus lineup is designed to give a new generation of MPs a chance to shine while putting an end to the infighting that has marred the party's performance in recent years.

The newly elected leader's front bench, unveiled yesterday, includes five new faces who rose up the ranks at the expense of senior Labour caucus members.

While he installed veteran MP and familiar face Annette King as his deputy, Mr Little made it clear the appointment was for a year only before a full review of responsibilities could take place. Ms King is a strong performer in the House and her selection as deputy would allow Mr Little to get out of Parliament and "reconnect" with New Zealanders.

Mr Little rewarded some of his supporters with top roles. But he also gave prominent positions to his leadership rivals as a gesture of unity.

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"This is about creating a culture where we're not competitive with each other, we're competitive with our opponents across the aisle," he said.

Leadership contender Grant Robertson was given the finance portfolio and another contender, Nanaia Mahuta, was promoted to fourth on the Labour list. Asked whether Mr Robertson, a former diplomat, had the skills to fill the crucial finance role, Mr Little described him as an "intellectual powerhouse" and noted that Finance Minister Bill English had a degree in English.

"What you need is intellectual competence and Grant has that in spades."

The big winners were relatively inexperienced MPs Carmel Sepuloni, Kelvin Davis and David Clark, who all moved on to Labour's extended front bench. Ms Sepuloni, a second-term MP who has just returned to Parliament in the Kelston seat, went straight into the sought-after social development role.

The biggest losers were long-serving MPs such as Clayton Cosgrove, a supporter of Mr Robertson, and Sue Moroney, who were dumped off the front bench into unranked positions.

Former leadership team David Cunliffe and David Parker fell to the mid-benches. Mr Cunliffe was leaving comment to the new leadership yesterday but said he was "looking forward to getting stuck into my new roles".

Jacinda Ardern, who campaigned as Mr Robertson's deputy in the leadership contest, had mixed fortunes. She fell in the rankings and lost the police and corrections roles, but remained on the front bench and was given responsibility for the justice portfolio. Ms Ardern could be a front-runner to replace Ms King in a year.

The selections rewarded Labour's strong Maori and Pacific vote in the election. The top 10 featured two Maori MPs and a Pacific MP.

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Mr Little also sent a signal about the importance of housing issues this term, promoting housing spokesman Phil Twyford to number five.