Chris Hipkins was elected as New Zealand prime minister to replace Jacinda Ardern and was sworn in after her shock resignation last week.
Mr. Hipkins, affectionately known as “Chippy”, received the award. unanimous support of politicians After becoming the only candidate to enter the race to become the next leader of the Labor Party.
Then he takes on the role Ms. Ardern resigned He says that as leader of the Labor Party and prime minister – he is no longer “in the tank” enough to do his job justice.
Hipkins is less than nine months away from running in a tough general election, with opinion polls showing his party outstripping the conservative opposition.
Unlike his predecessor, Mr. Hipkins is not yet a known name. Here’s everything we know about New Zealand’s new prime minister.
Hipkins and the epidemic
Mr. Hipkins, 44, is known for spearheading the government’s response to the outbreak in New Zealand and has regularly appeared at daily televised news conferences.
He was appointed minister of health in July 2020 and became minister of COVID response at the end of the year, holding this post until June 2022.
New Zealand’s strict COVID restrictions, which include closing the border and locking down the country while the number of cases are low, won government appreciation in the early days of the virus.
Ms. Ardern has received most of the accolades globally. But it is clear that his successor has a key role in his government, leading on the details.
It’s worth noting that New Zealand has strict COVID restrictions. It became less popular as the pandemic progressed.
This, in part, explains the difficult poll numbers Labor is currently facing in the country, with political opponents blaming COVID rules for curbing the economy.
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Other roles in parliament
Mr. Hipkins has worn many hats since he entered parliament in 2008.
He became spokesperson for education in 2013 and has served as education minister since the Labor Party formed the government in 2017.
He became minister of police in mid-2022 as the country was experiencing a rise in crime rates, and also became minister of civil service and leader of the house.
The new Labor leader and prime minister will have to act quickly to replace responsibilities as they adjust to their new roles.
Viral TV blunder
The incoming Prime Minister is known for his sense of humor and self-teasing.
With New Zealand under a nationwide lockdown in August 2021, a faux pas went viral when Mr. Hipkins on live TV urged people to “spread their legs” instead of going out and stretching their legs.
He was later seen at a press conference drinking from a mug that read “open your legs, not the virus.”
He is also famous for his love of Coke Zero and hot dog rolls, and his hot dog roll birthday cake once made headlines at home and abroad for his parliamentary colleagues.
Jacinda Ardern’s advice to Chris Hipkins
When Ardern appeared for the last time as prime minister, he told reporters that the only advice he could give his successor was “You do it”.
“This is for him now. It’s for him to create his own space to be the leader of his kind,” Ardern said.
“I really don’t have any advice to give. I can share knowledge, I can share experience, but that’s for him now.”
What Mr. Hipkins said about his predecessor
Mr Hipkins described Ms Ardern as one of New Zealand’s greatest prime ministers and an inspiration for women and girls.
“He gave a voice to those who are often overlooked in times of difficulty and deliberately started doing politics differently,” he said.
But he added that part of the hatred that Ardern suffered during her tenure was to remind her that “we still have a long way to go to ensure that women in leadership receive the same respect as their male counterparts.”
Mr. Hipkins’ family life
Speaking at the news conference announcing his appointment, Hipkins said he would keep Ardern’s family “completely out of the limelight” after seeing the public scrutiny of Ardern’s family.
He said he and his wife broke up a year ago but are “incredibly close” and are raising their two children together.
Mr. Hipkins took extended parental leave after the birth of his second child in 2018, becoming one of the first male cabinet ministers to do so.