The Labour Party has chosen a young woman to represent the South Asian community in Parliament as a List Candidate in the general election due to be held on September 20.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan, who was until recently Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Wellington, said that she is keen to connect with the Indian and other communities, understand their needs and work for them.
Ranked 23rd on the Party’s List, ahead of several sitting MPs, her choice signals the Party’s desire to have a woman candidate to represent the interests of Labour and that of communities in the debating chamber.
There are two other persons of Indian origin in the Labour List – Anjum Rahman of Hamilton and Sunny Kaushal of Auckland respectively ranked 42 and 43. But their chances of making it to Parliament are slim, unless Labour pools a high percentage of Party votes at the election.
Ms Radhakrishnan said that she was moving to Auckland to strengthen ties with the community in order that she can be an effective voice for our people in Parliament after the election.
“I have a good understanding of South Asian communities in New Zealand – issues and contributions- and I am Indian. I also have the skills to be able to be an effective voice for our South Asian communities in Parliament,” she said.
Born in Chennai to a Kerala family, Ms Radhakrishnan grew up in Singapore but spent her school holidays in India with her grandparents, cousins and friends.
She studied Mass Communication in Singapore and moved to New Zealand as an international student to pursue an undergraduate degree in Sociology.
She recently completed a Master of Development Studies course and won a couple of awards for her Master’s thesis.
For many years she was a social worker supporting ethnic women survivors of violence.
“I have spoken at conferences organised by the Office of Ethnic Affairs on various issues. I was brought up to value social justice and I strive to lead an honest life based on values of fairness, opportunity and solidarity. I am passionate about safety from violence – for our men, women and children. I also feel strongly about migrant worker exploitation – it is unjust and must be stopped,” Ms Radhakrishnan said.
Member of Parliament and Labour’s Associate Spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs and Social Development Dr Rajen Prasad, who is retiring from Parliament, said that he was delighted that Ms Radhakrishnan will be taking his position.
“She will be the first Indian woman in Parliament for the Labour Party and will bring her professional competence as a policy analyst as well as her youthfulness and advocacy experience. She is an Indian and a New Zealander and walks comfortably in both worlds. The Indian community should be very proud that Labour has selected a talented young woman to take the top spot on the list,” he said.
“We also have two other Indians on the List. Anjum Rahman and Sunny Kaushal from can also make it to Parliament and partner with Priyanka to increase the Indian presence there. Together they will make a powerful team,” he added.
Mrs Radhakrishnan will write a regular column from our next issue.