New Zealand's Prime Minister: Chris Hipkins has been sworn in as New Zealand's new Prime Minister following the unexpected resignation of Jacinda Ardern. After accepting Ardern's resignation, New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro officiated the brief swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday.
44-year-old Hipkins has vowed a return to the "basic approach" with an emphasis on the economy and what he called the "pandemic of inflation." Hipkins' Labour Party is lagging its conservative opposition in opinion polls, and he will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election.
“This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life. It feels pretty real now. I am energised and excited by the challenges that lie ahead," Hipkins said after taking the oath as the country's 41st Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Carmel Sepuloni was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister, the first time a person with Pacific Island heritage has taken on the role. She also congratulated Hipkins and thanked him for the trust he'd placed in her.
Who is Chris Hipkins?
Hipkins is known to many by the nickname “Chippy," which fits with his upbeat demeanor and skills as an amateur handyman. He 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.
The unexpected resignation of Jacinda Ardern
Earlier on Tuesday, January 24, Ardern made her final public appearance as Prime Minister, saying the thing she would miss most was the people because they had been the “joy of the job." The unexpected announcement from Ardern comes after five and a half years of tenure leading New Zealand through the coronavirus pandemic
It should be mentioned here that New Zealand's head-of-state is Britain's King Charles III, and Kiro is his representative in New Zealand, although these days the nation's relationship with the monarchy is largely symbolic.
(With inputs from AP)