Jenny Latu Salesa was sworn in as the new Member of Parliament for the Manukau East electorate in New Zealand’s 51st Parliament on 20 October 2014.
Three years later, she was re-elected as the MP for Manukau East and under the new Labour-led government was made Minister for Building and Construction, Minister for Ethnic Communities, and Associate Minister of Education, Health, and Housing and Urban Development.
Jenny has a strong interest in ensuring positive health and educational outcomes and ensuring equal opportunities and better outcomes for all.
Housing is a central issue to the people of Manukau East and this has been her immediate focus at a local level. In addition she spent her first term as an MP concentrating on the issues of employment, education and skills.
Before entering Parliament, Jenny was Principal Advisor (Pacific) at the Tertiary Education Commission. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a BA/LLB in 1996 and has had 20 years’ experience working in policy and funding, having worked as a health specialist and as a senior official in the Health and Education sectors.
Jenny also spent time living and working in America implementing and spreading to other cities an evidence-based health initiative developed in Michigan.
Jenny spent her early years in Tonga – and is the first Tongan speaking MP to enter the New Zealand Parliament. For much of her childhood her father was the only pharmacist in the Kingdom. They moved to New Zealand when she was 16 because her parents wanted her and her younger brother to have better access to university education.
Jenny divides her time between Wellington and Auckland, where her husband, University of Auckland Associate Professor Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa, and two children are based.