Williams in 2019
|Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector|
3 July 2019
|Assistant Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives|
8 November 2017 - 3 July 2019
|Member of the New Zealand Parliament|
for Christchurch East
28 January 2014
|Born||7 January 1962|
Wellington, New Zealand
|Political party||Labour Party|
|Alma mater||Southern Cross University|
Munokoa Poto Williams (born 7 January 1962) is a member of Parliament for the New Zealand Labour Party since the 2013 Christchurch East by-election. After Alfred Ngaro she is the second Cook Islander elected to the Parliament.
Williams, who is of Cook Island descent, was born in Wellington and grew up in Auckland, where she attended Beresford Street School and Auckland Girls' Grammar. Williams graduated from Southern Cross University in New South Wales, Australia with an MBA and as of the start of 2014 was completing a doctorate on Pacific women's leadership.
Williams has worked for the Ministry of Education, BirthRight, Healthcare NZ and disability agencies. She moved from Auckland to Christchurch's suburb of New Brighton in January 2013 to take up a position as regional manager of the St John of God Hauora Trust. She resigned from that role during the election campaign so that she could focus "110%" on the election.
|New Zealand Parliament|
Williams first got politically involved through making submissions on family violence and child welfare issues, which she has a strong interest in. She has served as a member of the Community Child Protection Review Panel, was involved in the Waitakere Community Law Service and Community Waitakere, and was part of the Living Wage Campaign and the LIFEWISE Big Sleepout.
Williams won the 2013 Christchurch East by-election with a "whopping" 61 per cent of the vote, delivering a "crushing victory". On 28 January 2014, Williams was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives.
During the 2017 general election in September, Williams retained the Christchurch East electorate, defeating Jo Hayes by 7,480 votes. On 19 October 2017, a Labour-led coalition government was formed with support from New Zealand First and the Green parties.
On 8 November 2017, Williams was elected to the office of Assistant Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives. National Party Opposition Members tried challenging her nomination for the office on the basis she was not yet sworn in. Speaker Trevor Mallard dismissed the challenges made by National Members by stating that the one of the criteria for being nominated and elected as a presiding officer was being a Member of Parliament - which she was by virtue of the finalised election results. She however would not be able to conduct her business as Assistant Speaker until she had been sworn in.
Following a cabinet reshuffle in late June 2019, Williams was appointed as a minister outside Cabinet, becoming Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector as well as an Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Social Development and Immigration.
In May 2017, Williams suggested removing the presumption of innocence afforded to alleged perpetrators of sexual assault.