New Zealand’s ruling Labour Party chose former COVID minister Chris Hipkins on Jan. 22 to replace the charismatic Jacinda Ardern as its new leader and become the next prime minister of the country.
Hipkins, 44, was the only nominee for the job and his confirmation on Jan. 22 at a party meeting known as the Labour caucus, was largely a formality.
His appointment to the top job followed the surprise resignation Jan. 19 by Ardern, who said she had “no more in the tank” to lead the country.
“This is the biggest privilege and biggest responsibility of my life,” Hipkins said at a news conference announcing his appointment. “I am energized and excited by the challenge that lies ahead.”
Hipkins immediately acknowledged the leadership of Ardern, whom he called one of New Zealand’s greatest prime ministers and an inspiration to women and girls everywhere.
“She gave voice to those often overlooked in times of challenge and purposefully went about doing politics differently,” Hipkins said.
Known as “Chippy,” Hipkins built a reputation for competence in tackling COVID-19 and was a troubleshooter for Ardern when other Cabinet ministers were struggling. Hipkins named Carmel Sepuloni, 46, as deputy prime minister. She becomes New Zealand’s first deputy prime minister of Pacific origin. (Reuters)