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Nikki Kaye: Cabinet's steadily rising star

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/04/2017

Nikki Kaye, the new education minister, has been one of National's steadily rising stars since she won Auckland Central in 2008.

It was a significant victory for National, the first time in history the seat had been taken from Labour.

She was re-elected in 2011 and 2014.

Ms Kaye, 37, born and bred in Auckland, was promoted to cabinet in 2013 and given the civil defence, food safety and youth portfolios.

During her first year as minister for food safety she was at the centre of Fonterra's contamination scare and fronted for the government along with Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Her career was suspended in September last year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Later confessing she had been "a complete mess", she offered to resign from cabinet because she believed ministers had to be able to give their jobs 100 per cent. .

The then prime minister, John Key, refused to accept it.

"We'll get through this," he told her.

Acting ministers were appointed while Kaye underwent treatment, and she returned to work in December.

On light duty, she kept her youth and associate education portfolios and when Bill English became prime minister he left her out of his first cabinet reshuffle to give her time to fully recover.

Ms Kaye has been the obvious replacement for Hekia Parata as education minister, and the position was confirmed on Monday.

She holds a law degree and a science degree in genetics.

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