Chris Hipkins Sworn In as New Prime Minister of New Zealand
Hundreds of people applauded Jacinda Ardern as she left the New Zealand Parliament on Wednesday, and Chris Hipkins was sworn in as the new prime minister. Ardern, 42, claimed last week that she did not have the “energy” to continue after leading the country through natural disasters, the worst terrorist attack in her history and the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a ceremony in Wellington, Hipkins, 44, was sworn in as the new prime minister before New Zealand’s governor-general. “This is the greatest privilege and responsibility of my life,” Hipkins declared upon taking office. “I am motivated and excited about the challenges ahead.”
Prince William congratulated Ardern after leaving office and singer Yusuf/Cat Stevens, who performed at the memorial for the 51 killed in the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, also praised Ardern.
As a father of two and nicknamed “Chippy,” Hipkins considers himself a “normal, ordinary Kiwi,” comes from a working-class family and enjoys cycling to work. He now faces the task of lifting the government’s low approval ratings ahead of the October general election.
After chairing is first cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Hipkins said it was an “immensely proud moment” for him as he “took the baton of responsibility” from Ardern. He pointed to the cost of living as one of his pressing priorities, but was evasiv when asked about other policies.
Meanwhile, Ardern will keep her seat in Parliament, although she has announced her intention to step back a bit from everyday politics and to marry her partner Clark Gayford, who hosts a popular TV fishing show. Gayford said Ardern’s resignation has been met with an “incredible outpouring of appreciation and respect.”