|26th Minister for Social Development|
26 October 2017
|Prime Minister||Jacinda Ardern|
|Preceded by||Anne Tolley|
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament |
21 September 2014
|Preceded by||Electorate established|
Carmel Jean Sepuloni
1977 (age 42–43)
Waitara, New Zealand
Daren Kamali (m. 2018)
|Alma mater||University of Auckland|
Carmel Jean Sepuloni (born 1977) is a New Zealand politician and a member of parliament for the Labour Party. She was first elected to Parliament following the 2008 general election as a list member, becoming New Zealand's first MP of Tongan descent. In the 2011 general election, Sepuloni won the seat of Waitakere on the official count with an eleven-vote majority over incumbent National MP Paula Bennett, who subsequently requested a judicial recount, which resulted in Sepuloni losing her seat in Parliament. She returned to Parliament in 2014 as the member for Kelston.
Sepuloni was born, raised and schooled in Waitara, Taranaki. She moved to Auckland in 1996 to attend the Auckland College of Education and University of Auckland where she attained a Diploma Teaching (Primary), and a Bachelor of Education respectively. She also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. Her father was a Samoan-Tongan migrant freezing worker and 'staunch unionist' and her mother was a Pākehā from a conservative farming family. She has two sons.She married writer and musician Daren Kamali in November 2018. Before entering politics, Sepuloni was a teacher, with teaching experience in Samoa and with Auckland Youth in alternative education programmes; an equity manager; and a research project manager in Pacific health at the University of Auckland.
|New Zealand Parliament|
Sepuloni came to parliament in the 2008 general election as a list MP for Labour. She was ranked 35 on the party's list and did not stand in any electorate. The promotion of Sepuloni and others was cited by The New Zealand Herald as an effort by the Labour Party to 'inject new faces' and increase the party's ethnic diversity.
After the election she became Labour's spokesperson for civil defence, and associate spokesperson for tertiary education and social development. She had been involved in the party for only a year and a half before being elected.
In her maiden speech, Sepuloni said "I've learned through my own experiences and the experiences of others around me, that our young in particular can quickly begin to self-stigmatise when the media and society stigmatise them. When the media only portrays a picture of a ghettoised, poverty-stricken group of trouble makers, then our youth can resign themselves to the fact that this is what they are. They may even take pride in this prescribed image, because it provides them with a level of attention and status which although negative, is attention and status nonetheless."
In June 2010, her Employment Relations (Probationary Period Repeal) Amendment Bill was drawn from the member's ballot. A bill to repeal the changes to probationary employment contained in the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008,it was defeated at its first reading 64 votes to 57.
On 19 March 2010, Sepuloni was selected as the Labour candidate for the Waitakere electorate in the 2011 general election, facing incumbent National MP and Cabinet minister Paula Bennett. On April 2011, she was ranked number 24 on the party's list for the election. On the election night preliminary count, she placed second in Waitakere, 349 votes behind Bennett, and with her list ranking was set not to be returned to parliament. When the official results were released on 10 December 2011, Sepuloni had received sufficient special votes to win Waitakere and defeat Bennett by 11 votes. [ citation needed ]However, Bennett requested a judicial recount, and on 17 December 2011 subsequently regained her seat with a nine-vote majority, removing Sepuloni from Parliament. This was not before the Labour Party leadership election on 13 December, in which she participated as a member-elect of the Labour caucus. Not long after leaving Parliament Sepuloni travelled to Egypt to participate as a short term observer on the NDI International Election Mission. Prior to being reelected to parliament, Sepuloni was employed as the Chief Executive for a Pacific disability, mental health and older persons NGO called Vaka Tautua.
During the 2014 general election, Carmel Sepuloni stood as Labour's candidate in the Kelston electorate in Auckland; winning by a majority of 15,091 votes.
In 2015 she was stood down as Labour's social development spokesperson after her mother was charged with benefit fraud.
During the 2017 general election, Carmel Sepuloni stood again in her Kelston seat, returning to Parliament with a majority of 16,789 votes. Sepuloni was elected as a Cabinet Minister by the Labour Party caucus following Labour's formation of a coalition government with New Zealand First and the Greens.Sepuloni was subsequently appointed as Minister of Social Development and Disability Issues as well as Associate Minister of Pacific Peoples and Arts, Culture, and Heritage.
On 28 April 2018, Sepuloni issued a statement criticizing Work and Income for turning away a homeless woman who was trying to apply for a benefit after being discharged from hospital.As Social Development Minister, Sepuloni likened the Coalition Government's approach to welfare reform to "trying to turn a jumbo jet in mid-air."
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|New Zealand Parliament|
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament for Kelston |
| Minister for Social Development |
| Minister for Disability Issues|