Chris Hipkins has been sworn in as Prime Minister of New Zealand. “New Zealanders will certainly see in the coming weeks and months that the cost of living will be at the heart of our work programme,” the Labor leader told reporters on Wednesday after his first cabinet meeting. “It’s the top priority we’re addressing as a government and you’re going to see tangible evidence of that. Of course, as I’ve indicated, I’m not going to just make it up on the fly.”
“This is the greatest privilege and opportunity of my life,” said the 44-year-old on Wednesday. “The Vice Prime Minister and I both take today’s appointment very seriously.” Hipkins previously served as Minister of Police and Secretary of Education.
He announced that he would comply with the commitments already made for the current legislative period. The 44-year-old follows Jacinda Ardern, who surprisingly resigned last week. Hipkin’s deputy, Carmel Sepuloni, was also sworn in during the minutes-long ceremony. Sepuloni is the first Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand with Samoan-Tongan roots.
Last hug from the head of government
Ardern (42) had previously left parliament for the last time as head of government and individually hugged all cabinet members who were waiting for her in front of the building. Many of her colleagues had tears in their eyes and thanked her for her achievements. Numerous citizens had also come to Parliament in Wellington to say goodbye to the popular politician. Because of her empathetic nature and her successful crisis management, Ardern was also admired internationally.
Prince William and his wife Duchess Kate tweeted: “Thank you Jacinda Ardern for your friendship, guidance and support over the years, not least at the time of my grandmother’s death.” New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth. King Charles III, the Queen’s son, is the country’s new head of state.
Ardern, which has ruled since 2017, had a surprise on Thursday announced her retirement and said she lacked the strength to continue. “I know what it takes for this job and I know I don’t have enough left in the tank,” she said in an emotional speech. When she took office, she was the youngest prime minister in the world at the time. In 2018, she became the first prime minister in decades to give birth while in office. In 2020 she was re-elected with a large majority. The next parliamentary elections in the Pacific country will take place on October 14th.