Page last updated at 05:26 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

New Zealand government sworn in

John Key, leader of New Zealand's opposition National Party, campaigns in Auckland on 7 November
Key says the task that stands before his new government is enormous

A new centre-right government has taken office in New Zealand, having defeated Helen Clark's Labour party in a general election on 8 November.

John Key, 47, was sworn in as New Zealand's 38th prime minister during a ceremony in the capital, Wellington.

The multi-millionaire former investment banker said limiting the damage of the global recession was his top priority.

His National Party has promised to cut taxes, spend more on infrastructure and undertake regulatory reforms.

Mr Key was sworn in along with 26 other ministers, including the country's first Asian minister, Pansy Wong, in a ceremony presided over by Governor-General Anand Satyanand.

Ms Clark had been prime minister of New Zealand since 1999.

Apec meeting

Mr Key said the task that stood before his new government was enormous.

I've proved that we can hack the pace in parliament, so that more Asians feel they can do it
Pansy Wong
New Zealand's first Asian minister

"The group of individuals that form the executive are the right individuals to take New Zealand on a more prosperous and safer future," he said.

He pledged economic growth would be "front and centre stage of the government's agenda".

The new prime minister is scheduled to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Peru later this week.

New Zealand has been in recession since the start of the year and some analysts believe it will not pull out until 2009.

Pansy Wong, 53, has become New Zealand's first Asian-born cabinet minister.

Born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong, she moved with her parents to New Zealand when she was 19.

Ms Wong, who was elected to parliament in 1996, was appointed minister for ethnic affairs and women's affairs.

"I've proved that we can hack the pace in parliament, so that more Asians feel they can do it," she told AFP news agency.

The number of ethnic Asians in the country of 4.3 million people has risen by more than 50% since 2000 and is expected to almost double in the next 20 years.

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