Nikki Kaye to take leave from Ministerial portfolios to undergo breast cancer treatment
Cabinet Minister Nikki Kaye has taken leave from her ministerial duties to undergo breast cancer treatment.
In a statement, Kaye said the news was "devastating".
"On Friday I was told that I have breast cancer. It was devastating news for me and my family," said the 36-year-old.
Kaye is the Minister for ACC, Civil Defence and Youth, but her portfolios have been distributed across other ministers while she focused on her treatment, Prime Minister John Key confirmed.
On her Facebook page, Kaye said to serve as the MP for Auckland Central and a cabinet minister "continues to be a huge privilege".
"I have always worked hard and given everything I have to both roles. I told the PM on Friday and I took a leave of absence from my ministerial portfolios," she said.
"I will also be putting plans in place to ensure my electorate office has additional support during this time to ensure my constituents continue to get good support with their personal issues, policy ideas or queries.
"I am fortunate to have wonderful hardworking staff and National party colleagues who are helping ensure this support is there for my constituents."
Kaye had the "full support" of her National Party colleagues.
"I feel so lucky to have such an amazing family and group of friends who are giving me buckets of love and have been so strong helping me work through this. I also want to acknowledge the PM who has been hugely caring and supportive.
"During this time I would be really grateful to have a bit of space and privacy while I get treatment and focus on getting well," she said.
Key said he had spoken with Kaye.
"Obviously we're giving her 100 per cent support. She is undergoing further testing and the main point I'd make is Nikki is young, she's very fit and she's extremely determined, and she's a fighter."
Asked whether the cancer had picked up early, he said there would be better information in the next few days.
"She's pretty young to have such a diagnosis, but let's see," he said."
"Her medical team is working hard to ensure a full recovery. Nikki will be dedicating her energy towards getting well, and I wish her all the best.
"I appointed Acting Ministers to Nikki's portfolios on Friday and this will continue until she is able to return to her role."
Gerry Brownlee will act as Minister of Civil Defence, Nathan Guy will act as Minister for ACC, Anne Tolley will act as Minister for Youth.
Kaye's Associate Education responsibilities will be taken by Education Minister Hekia Parata.
POLITICIANS EXPRESS SUPPORT
MPs from across the house have expressed an outpouring of support over social media.
Labour leader Andrew Little expressed his sympathies, wishing Kaye a quick recovery.
Labour MP, and Kaye's toughest electoral competitor, Jacinda Ardern said the news was "gutting".
My thoughts with @nikkikaye at this time. Wishing her well for a speedy recovery— Andrew Little (@AndrewLittleMP) September 5, 2016
@nikkikaye This is gutting news Nikki. Thinking of you and wishing you the speediest recovery.— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) September 5, 2016
Terrible news re @nikkikaye. Best wishes to her for a full and speedy recovery— Peter Dunne (@PeterDunneMP) September 5, 2016
@nikkikaye all the very best Nikki as you deal with this. Take care.— Grant Robertson (@grantrobertson1) September 5, 2016
@nikkikaye very sorry to hear Nikki. Get better soon...xx— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) September 5, 2016
"Thinking of you and wishing you the speediest recovery," she said on Twitter.
According to the Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer affects one in nine New Zealand women over their lifetime.
Most survive five years or longer if the cancer is detected early enough, but more than 600 women die of the disease every year.
Born in Auckland, Kaye was raised in wealthy suburb of Epsom. Her parents split when she was six. Her family includes a brother and sister, a step-brother, six half-brothers and -sisters, and two step-parents.
Kaye has been a minister since 2013, quickly rising through the ranks to take on a number of hefty portfolios.
She has held the Auckland Central seat for the past three elections, beating Labour's Ardern in the past two, in the notoriously-named "battle of the babes" by a select group of male pundits.
She has commanded respect however, since she was first elected in 2008, ousting Labour grand dame Judith Tizard and ending the party's 90-year grip on the seat.
A risky political move shortly after cemented her as a serious politician.
She spoke out against the Government when it floated opening up 7000 hectares of conservation land on Great Barrier Island to mining – in her electoral backyard. The idea never went any further.
But Kaye was not a political newcomer at that point.
She had been a National party member since 1998, and a Young Nats president.
In the early 2000s, she worked for Bill English when he was leader of the Opposition.
Kaye has also set up her own internet business.