20 Feb 2024

Who is new Labour finance spokesperson Barbara Edmonds?

4:48 pm on 20 February 2024
Barbara Edmonds and Chris Hipkins

Barbara Edmonds with Chris Hipkins at the announcement for Grant Robertson's retirement. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Labour leader Chris Hipkins described her as a "formidable Parliamentarian" with experience across nine ministerial portfolios.

"She will be a fantastic finance spokesperson and I'm looking forward to working closely with her in this role.

"As this Coalition Government shows more and more that it is very big on repealing and very short on practical solutions and ideas, it's important we have the right people in the right portfolios."

A former tax lawyer, Edmonds was seconded from Inland Revenue in 2016 to work with then-ministers of revenue Michael Woodhouse and Judith Collins.

She ran for Parliament in 2020 and won by a substantial margin, beating National's Jo Hayes in the greater Wellington seat by 16,244 votes. Her electorate encompasses Raumati South, Paekākāriki, Plimmerton, Porirua and Cannons Creek.

In a Cabinet reshuffle last January, then-new prime minister Hipkins appointed Edmonds - whose parents immigrated from Western Samoa in 1978 and whose first language is Samoan - as minister for Pacific peoples and minister of internal affairs.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Barbara Edmonds (centre) at the launch of a new Samoan language app.

Barbara Edmonds at the launch of a Samoan language app, when she was Minister for Pacific Peoples. Photo: Supplied

Edmonds' talent has been recognised on both sides of the House. Just one year after entering Parliament, she was named by Christopher Luxon as the one Labour MP he would like to have on his team.

"She's very, very smart, she's very, very considered and I really admire her work," he told the NZ Herald in December 2021.

In February 2023, she was appointed associate minister for cyclone recovery after Gabrielle ravaged parts of the North Island, and soon took over from Stuart Nash as minister for economic development following his fall from grace.

She benefited, too, from the resignation of David Parker, who quit as minister of revenue after his long-planned wealth tax was dumped, and took over from Kiri Allan as associate minister of finance after the East Coast MP's well-publicised travails.

Edmonds won the Mana electorate again in the 2023 General Election, but saw her margin slashed to 7324 over National's Frances Hughes.

She has eight children with her husband Chris Edmonds, whom she met when aged 16.

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