7 Mar 2017

Ardern confirmed as new Labour deputy

9:18 pm on 7 March 2017

Labour's new deputy Jacinda Ardern will be the voice of a generation that the current government has ignored, leader Andrew Little says.

Ms Ardern was confirmed unanimously as the party's new deputy leader following a caucus meeting, and Mr Little has announced a cabinet reshuffle.

Last week Annette King announced she would stand down as deputy leader and from her front bench responsibilities. She will leave Parliament altogether at the September.

There were no challengers to Ms Ardern's nomination, Mr Little said.

Mr Little said last week that Ms Ardern's win in the Mt Albert by-election and her performance over her nine years in Parliament had shown she had what it took for the number two position in the caucus.

Today he said he and his new deputy would "reach out to a bunch of people who Jacinda represents, which is those people who have been neglected by this government".

"[They're] the people who are missing out on getting their own home, have paid for their own education, and now - if this government has its way - will have to work longer and harder before they become entitled to superannunation," Mr Little said.

"Jacinda is the voice of that generation."

Ms Ardern said she was "buoyed" by the support the Labour caucus had shown her.

She denied she had any designs on the top job.

"I'm here to see Andrew Little elected as Prime Minister, nothing else," she said.

"Andrew asked me to do the job ... and I'm going to be reciprocating by making sure he has the job of Prime Minister in six months' time."

Asked if it would be awkward if she became more popular than Mr Little in the preferred Prime Minister polls, she replied: "No it won't be, because I won't be."

Mr Little said he would finalise a small portfolio reshuffle this afternoon, in which the MP for Dunedin North, David Clark, is expected to take over the health portfolio from Ms King.

Ms Ardern said she would be keen to retain her portfolio as Labour's spokesperson for children.

Cabinet reshuffled

Following Ms Arden's appointment, Mr Little has announced a reshuffle of Labour caucus responsibilities.

David Clark takes over as health spokesperson, a job formerly done by Mrs King, who will now be spokesperson for state services.

Mr Clark's responsibility for economic development goes to Stuart Nash, while David Parker will handle trade and export growth.

Megan Woods picks up energy, innovation and science, and research and development from Mr Nash; and Raymond Huo, who is expected to join the caucus next week, gets land information.

Peeni Henare is the new spokesperson for state-owned enterprises, and Adrian Rurawhe moves into the shadow cabinet.