Pansy Wong, 53-year-old ethnic Chinese member of parliament (MP), was appointed Minister for Ethnic Affairs and Minister of Women's Affairs in the new-look cabinet in New Zealand.
Pansy Wong, shown in this undated photo on New Zealand Parliament's official website, was appointed Minister for Ethnic Affairs and Minister of Women's Affairs in the new-look cabinet.
Pansy Wong said her appointment as the country's first Asian Cabinet minister showed New Zealand is an open and tolerant country.
She said she had always battled to be treated like any other New Zealander and her electorate win in Botany, Auckland, and her appointment as a minister sent a message to the world.
She hoped her achievements would show other minorities they could succeed within mainstream parties and politics and encourage them to get involved.
Wong credited education, hard work and determination, a system of values instilled by her poor uneducated parents, as the keys to her success.
Born in Shanghai, her family moved to Hong Kong when she was five.
In 1974, when she was 19, her family emigrated to New Zealand after her father, who had docked in New Zealand on his travels, decided it was good place to raise a family.
Wong studied at Canterbury University, helping out in her family's St Albans fish and chip shop and Bealey Ave hamburger joint in her spare time.
It was at university that she met her Malaysian Chinese husband Sammy.
She went on to complete a Masters of Commerce degree with honors, initially working at what is now Ernst and Young as an accountant before joining Christchurch firm Smiths City where she eventually became chief financial controller.
In 1989 she was approached to enter local politics and was elected to Canterbury Regional Council.
In 1996, she became New Zealand's first Asian MP by virtue of National party's list.
Wong said since she was elected to Parliament she has tried to represent Asian communities, but she does not see herself as a spokeswoman for all Asians, as there is a diverse range of interests and views within such a wide group.
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