Prince William and Kate thank Jacinda Ardern for ‘friendship and leadership’ as new PM takes over

Jacinda Ardern's last day as Prime Minister - Reuters

Jacinda Ardern’s last day as Prime Minister – Reuters

New Zealand officially has a new Prime Minister, and Jacinda Ardern is spending her last day in office before handing over her duties to Chris Hipkins.

Mr. Hipkins, 44, was sworn in as New Zealand’s 41st prime minister at a ceremony hosted by the country’s Governor-General, Cindy Kiro. Ms. Kiro, representing King Charles, had previously accepted Ms. Ardern’s official resignation.

Prince William and his wife Kate thanked Ms Ardern on Twitter:

They wrote: “For your friendship, leadership and support over the years, especially at the time of my grandmother’s death. We send our best wishes to you, Clarke and Neve. W&C.”

Clarke Gayford is Miss Ardern’s fiancee and Neve is their four-year-old daughter.

It’s less than nine months before Mr. Hipkins runs a tough general election, and opinion polls show his party’s Labor Party has outstripped the conservative opposition.

It promised a “back to basics” approach.

“This is the greatest privilege and responsibility of my life,” Hipkins said at the ceremony. “The challenges before me energize and excite me.”

Chris Hipkins at the ceremony - Reuters

Chris Hipkins at the ceremony – Reuters

Carmel Sepuloni was also sworn in as deputy prime minister, for the first time a person of Pacific Island heritage took on the role. She congratulated Mr. Hipkins and thanked him for his confidence.

Ms Ardern said last week that she resigned after more than five years in the post because she no longer had “enough storage” to do justice to her job. “It’s that simple,” she said.

On Tuesday, he made his last official appearance as prime minister, saying that what he will miss most is the people because they are the “joy of work”.

As he left the building on Wednesday morning, he was greeted with hugs and goodbyes by dozens of former staff and fans in the forecourt of Parliament.

Philanthropists embrace Ardern - Reuters

Philanthropists embrace Ardern – Reuters

After the ceremony, the new Prime Minister told reporters: “It feels pretty real now.”

Mr. Hipkins is known to many by the nickname “Chippy”, which suits his optimistic attitude and skills as an amateur mechanic.

He served as minister of education and police under Ms. Ardern. He rose to prominence in public when he took on a sort of crisis management role during the Covid-19 pandemic. But he and other liberals have been overshadowed by Ms. Ardern, who has long become a global icon of the left and exemplifies a new leadership style.

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