Who is Carmel Sepuloni? New Zealand’s first Pasifika deputy prime minister
Carmel Sepuloni admits her father, who arrived from Samoa in 1964 unable to speak English, had difficulty taking in the news that his daughter was shortly to become New Zealand’s first Pasifika deputy prime minister.
“To think that he could come here to work on the railways and the freezing works [abattoir] and marry a sheep farmer’s daughter and have a daughter who would become the deputy prime minister of New Zealand is very difficult to comprehend,” Sepuloni said. “But as you can imagine, [he’s] very proud.”
Sepuloni has been the country’s social development minister and is of Samoan, Tongan and Pākehā (European) descent. She says she is humbled to be “smashing glass ceilings” and is now tasked with winning back voters for an election campaign that, if successful, would represent the first time New Zealand had voted a Pasifika candidate into one of its top leadership roles.
Speaking to reporters as her selection was announced on Sunday, Sepuloni said the moment had “huge significance to our community in terms of the representation”.
“I’ve received so many humbling messages about another glass ceiling being smashed,” she said. “For our Pacific community and for young girls, for women, we’re continuing to role-model as a country that leadership positions for women are absolutely possible.”