Why are some Ministers “Minister of” and others “Minister for”

Someone asked me this question on Twitter, and I wasn’t sure so I asked the Cabinet Office if there were any guidelines about why some titles are “Minister of Health” and others “ for Arts, Culture and Heritage”.

The short answer is that the PM decides, so it is up to him.

The longer answer is that the following factors are taken into account:

  • usually, when new appointments are made to established portfolios, the portfolio titles remain the same (whether “of” or “for”, especially if the title is used in legislation)
  • “of” is often used where the portfolio relates directly to an actual Ministry or Department (eg Minister of Health, Minister of Justice, Minister of Corrections)
  • “for” is often used where the portfolio description is more “generic”, eg where the Minister is responsible for a particular topic or area (eg Minister for Regulatory Reform, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage);
  • sometimes, for reasons of sense or style, it just makes sense to use “of” or “for” (eg the former “Minister of Women’s Affairs has been changed to “Minister for Women”).

That makes a lot of sense. The last point especially resonates. Being the “Minister of Youth” or “Minister of Women” would sound very weird. Would be a cool business card though that said “Minister of Youth” 🙂

For those interested these are the different titles:

Minister Of

Broadcasting
Civil Defence
Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Conservation
Corrections
Customs
Defence
Education
Energy and Resources
Finance
Foreign Affairs
Health
Housing
Immigration
Internal Affairs
Local Government
Maori Affairs
Pacific Island Affairs
Police
Revenue
Science and Innovation
State Services
Statistics
Tourism
Trade
Transport
Veterans’ Affairs
Youth Affairs

Minister for

ACC
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Building and Housing
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Climate Change Issues
Communications
Courts
Disability Issues
Economic Development
Ethnic Communities
Food Safety
Land Information
National Security and Intelligence
Pacific Peoples
Primary Industries
Racing
Regulatory Reform
Senior Citizens
Small Business
Social Development
Social Housing
Sport and Recreation
State Owned Enterprises
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Women
Workplace Relations and Safety
Whanau Ora
Youth
(the) Community and Voluntary Sector
(the) Environment

My thanks to the Cabinet Office for their prompt and helpful response.

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