Chris Hipkins has been sworn in as New Zealand’s 41st Prime Minister during a ceremony in the capital, Wellington, following the unexpected resignation of Jacinda Ardern.
Hipkins, 44, has pledged a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the “pandemic of inflation.”
Hipkins will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his Labour Party is trailing its conservative opposition.
New Zealand Governor-General, Cindy Kiro officiated the brief swearing in ceremony in front of Hipkins’ friends and colleagues after she earlier accepted Ardern’s resignation.
“This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life. I’m energized and excited by the challenges that lie ahead.”Chris Hipkins
Carmel Sepuloni has also been sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister, the first time a person with Pacific Island heritage has taken on the role. She congratulated Hipkins and thanked him for the trust he has placed in her.
Hipkins is known to many by the nickname “Chippy,” which fits with his upbeat demeanor and skills as an amateur handyman.
Chris Hipkins served as Education and Police Minister under Ardern. He rose to public prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he took on a kind of crisis management role. But he and other liberals have long been in the shadow of Ardern, who became a global icon of the left and exemplified a new style of leadership.
Ardern last week said she was resigning after more than five years in the role because she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do the job justice. “It’s that simple,” she said.
On Tuesday, Ardern made her final official appearance as Prime Minister, saying that what she would miss most was the people because they had been the “joy of the job.” On Wednesday morning, she was greeted with hugs and farewells by dozens of former staff and admirers on Parliament’s forecourt as she left the building.
Ardern plans to stay on as a backbench lawmaker until April to avoid triggering a special election ahead of the nation’s general election in October.
New Zealand’s head-of-state is Britain’s King Charles III, and Cindy Kiro is his representative in New Zealand, although these days, the nation’s relationship with the monarchy is largely symbolic.
Britain’s Prince William and wife, Kate, thanked Ardern on Twitter “for your friendship, leadership and support over the years, not least at the time of my grandmother’s death. Sending you, Clarke and Neve our best wishes. W & C”
Clarke Gayford is Ardern’s fiance and Neve is their 4-year-old daughter.
Response To Cost Of Living Pressures, Government’s “Absolute Priority”
New Zealand’s new Prime Minister has disclosed that responding to cost of living pressures is his government’s “absolute priority”, as his swearing-in coincided with the release of stubbornly high inflation figures.
In the first post-cabinet press conference of his tenure, Chris Hipkins intoned, “New Zealanders will absolutely see in the coming weeks and months the cost of living is right at the heart of our work program.”
“It is the number one priority that we are facing as a government and they will see tangible evidence of this,” Hipkins reiterated.
While much of his time was devoted to talking about economic pressures, Hipkins said other priorities, including climate change, would not be pushed off the government’s work program.
“The fact that we’re dealing with a cost of living crisis and … a whole range of pressures that are immediate doesn’t mean that climate change somehow moves off the agenda. It continues to be one of the biggest intergenerational challenges that we face. So you expect to see my government continuing to make sure as we owe it to future generations that we do everything we can to tackle that challenge.”Chris Hipkins
Hipkins, the architect of New Zealand’s pandemic response, is now tasked with reviving the government’s ebbing popularity ahead of a general election in October.
READ ALSO: War With China Is “Not An Option.” – Taiwanese President
Leave a Reply