Poto Williams
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Poto Williams

Poto Williams

Poto Williams 2019 (cropped).jpg
Williams in 2019
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector

3 July 2019
Jacinda Ardern
Peeni Henare
Assistant Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives

8 November 2017 - 3 July 2019
Lindsay Tisch
Ruth Dyson
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch East

28 January 2014
Lianne Dalziel
Personal details
Born (1962-01-07) 7 January 1962 (age 58)
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLabour Party
Alma materSouthern 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.

Early life and education

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.[1] Williams graduated from Southern Cross University in New South Wales, Australia with an MBA[2] and as of the start of 2014 was completing a doctorate on Pacific women's leadership.[3]

Professional career

Williams has worked for the Ministry of Education, BirthRight, Healthcare NZ and disability agencies.[1] 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.[4] She resigned from that role during the election campaign so that she could focus "110%" on the election.[5]

Political career

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
2013–2014 50th Christchurch East Labour
2014–2017 51st Christchurch East 28 Labour
2017–present 52nd Christchurch East 25 Labour

Williams first got politically involved through making submissions on family violence and child welfare issues, which she has a strong interest in.[1] 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.[3]

Fifth National Government, 2013–2017

Williams won the 2013 Christchurch East by-election with a "whopping"[6] 61 per cent of the vote, delivering a "crushing victory".[7] On 28 January 2014, Williams was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives.[8]

During the 2014 general election Williams won the Christchurch East electorate, defeating National candidate Jo Hayes by 4,073 votes.[9]

Sixth Labour Government, 2017–present

During the 2017 general election in September, Williams retained the Christchurch East electorate, defeating Jo Hayes by 7,480 votes.[10] On 19 October 2017, a Labour-led coalition government was formed with support from New Zealand First and the Green parties.[11][12]

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.[13]

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.[14][15][16]

Political positions

In May 2017, Williams suggested removing the presumption of innocence afforded to alleged perpetrators of sexual assault.[17]


  1. ^ a b c "Chch East candidate: Poto Williams". Stuff.co.nz. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ Hutching, Chris. "New bloods vie for Christchurch East". National Business Review. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Poto Williams selected as Labour Christchurch East Candidate | Scoop News". Scoop.co.nz. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ "Labour picks community worker for Chch East". Radio New Zealand. 21 September 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ Conway, Glenn (28 September 2013). "Unknown, but undaunted". The Press. p. A15.
  6. ^ Bayer, Kurt (30 November 2013). "Poto Williams wins Christchurch East by-election". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ "Chch by-election an easy Labour win". The Press. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ (28 January 2014) 696 NZPD 1.
  9. ^ "Official Count Results -- Christchurch East". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "Christchurch East - Official Result 2017 election". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ Chapman, Grant (19 October 2017). "Full video: NZ First leader Winston Peters announces next Government". Newshub. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Hurley, Emma (19 October 2017). "An 'historic moment' for the Green Party - James Shaw". Newshub. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "Read Hansard Reports". Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ Devlin, Collette (27 June 2019). "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Cabinet reshuffle - the ups and downs". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ Small, Zane (27 June 2019). "Jacinda Ardern's Cabinet reshuffle: Phil Twyford's Housing portfolio split into three". Newshub. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ "Winners and losers - PM reveals first substantive Cabinet reshuffle". Radio New Zealand. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ Wall, Tony (30 April 2017). "Police are telling rape victims their hands are tied if the accused denies it". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2017.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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