Chris Hipkins Is New Zealand's Next Prime Minister
New Zealand's ruling Labor Party chose former COVID-19 minister Chris Hipkins on Sunday (Jan. 22, 2023) to replace the charismatic Jacinda Ardern as its new leader, and become the next prime minister of the country, Reuters reported.
Photo Insert: 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, 44, was the only nomination for the job and his confirmation by the 64 lawmakers, known as the Labour caucus, is largely a formality. His appointment to the top job followed the surprise resignation by Ardern on Thursday who said she had "no more in the tank" to lead the country, Channel News Asia (CNA) also reported.
"This is the biggest privilege and biggest responsibility of my life," Hipkins said announcing his appointment. "I am energized and excited by the challenge that lies ahead.”
Hipkins immediately acknowledged the leadership of Ardern, who 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.
First elected to parliament in 2008, he became a household name fronting the government's response to the pandemic. He was appointed health minister in July 2020 before becoming the COVID-19 response minister at the end of the year.
Hipkins named Carmel Sepuloni as deputy prime minister, New Zealand's first deputy prime minister of Pacific origin. Sepuloni, 46, is of Samoan, Tongan, and New Zealand European descent and lives in Auckland.
She holds a number of portfolios, including social development and employment and arts, culture, and heritage.