Hon Jenny Salesa

Minister for Ethnic Communities

Hon Jenny Salesa is New Zealand’s first Tongan born, Tongan speaking Member of Parliament and the first Tongan born Cabinet Minister of the Crown. She is the local Member of Parliament for Manukau East, and has a particular interest in housing, education, health, skills and training.

In 2017, Jenny was sworn into Cabinet as a Minister of the Crown with portfolio responsibilities for Building and Construction and Ethnic Communities, and with Associate responsibilities for Education, Health, Housing and Urban Development. 

Jenny came to Parliament with over 20 years’ Public Sector experience, having worked across the breadth of the public service. This includes being a Project Manager at the Ministry of Health, Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry for Pacific Island Affairs, and Principal Advisor (Pacific) at the Tertiary Education Commission.

Jenny also spent time living in Michigan, America, where she worked as a Policy Advisor for the National Vaccine Advisory Committee and then as a health specialist with the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.

She graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Laws.  

Jenny divides her time between Wellington and Auckland, where her husband, University of Auckland Associate Professor Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa, and two children are based.

Hon Jenny Salesa looks forward to working alongside the Office of Ethnic Communities and relevant stakeholders in making sure that all people in our ethnic communities feel safe, successful and a part of New Zealand.