Chris Hipkins Becomes New Zealand's New Prime Minister As Jacinda Ardern Offers An Emotional Farewell
Six days after Jacinda Ardern's shocking resignation before an imminent election, New Zealand welcomed a new prime minister on Wednesday. Chris Hipkins becomes New Zealand's new Prime Minister.
Hipkins was initially elected to Parliament in 2008, and in 2020 he led the charge in implementing the country's Covid-19 policy. His previous positions include minister of education, minister of police, minister for the public service, and leader of the house prior to his appointment as prime minister.
On Sunday, the Labour Party, which is now in power, overwhelmingly voted for Hipkins to replace Ardern as its leader. He was the only candidate.
Fashion Sense Of Hipkins
Hipkins told reporters that he enjoyed cycling, gardening, DIY projects, and being outdoors. He memorably addressed the media in the wake of Ardern's departure while sporting a worn hat, dark sunglasses, and a baggy hoodie.
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The future Prime Minister of New Zealand earned degrees in politics and criminology from Wellington's Victoria University before working in the field of vocational education. A senior advisor to two ministers of education and to then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, he entered politics in 2008.
Although Hipkins has a reputation for being easygoing and a smooth operator, he has shown himself capable of playing hardball politics and has had public run-ins with Australia's previous conservative administration.
In 2021, he criticized Australia's deportation policies, saying that Australia was "exporting its filth" to New Zealand. When Hipkins was accused of plotting the downfall of Australia's then-deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce in 2017, Ardern reprimanded him.
Data provided to Hipkins indicated that Joyce had dual citizenship with New Zealand and Australia, making him ineligible to serve in parliament in Australia.
Jacinda Ardern Bids Emotional Farewell
On her last day in office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave a heartfelt speech in which she thanked the people of New Zealand for their compassion and said she was ready to focus on her roles as a sister and mother.
The 42-year-old was met by a throng of admirers as she arrived at a meeting of lawmakers and Maori elders in the tiny town of Ratana, north of the capital Wellington, only days after she shocked the globe by stating she had "no more in the tank" to lead the nation and would resign.
Chris Hipkins, the current deputy leader of the Labour Party, will succeed her as leader on Wednesday. Ardern, Hipkins, and other opposition leaders were there for the yearly commemoration of Maori prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana's birth.
At the front of her party, she led the way into the community grounds as a brass band performed, dressed in a black dress and the traditional Maori cloak, called korowai. Elders spoke humorously and warmly about Ardern in the speeches, songs, and dances that followed.
Ardern said that she hadn't intended to talk but that the audience wouldn't let her off the hook. Possibly for the final time as prime minister, Ardern smiled brightly as she addressed the media before entering the grounds and declined to answer political questions, saying they were now the job of her successor.
The only interesting angle that you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.
- Jacinda Ardern
Chris Hipkins succeeds Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand's prime minister
Progressive Policies Gained Global Attention
Ms. Ardern, Mr. Hipkins, and other opposition lawmakers were there for the annual weeklong commemoration of the birth of the Maori prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.
She led her group into the community grounds while a brass band performed, wearing a black dress and the traditional Mori cloak, called korowai, over her shoulders. In the speeches, songs, and dances that followed, Ms. Ardern was repeatedly praised by the elders, who did it with humor and affection.
I want you to know I leave with a greater love and affection for Aotearoa New Zealand and its people than when I started.
- Jacinda Ardern
I am ready to be lots of things. I'm ready to be a backbench MP. I'm ready to be a sister and a mum.
- Jacinda Ardern
After a slaughter at a mosque, the world's attention turned to the hijab-wearing, left-leaning worldwide star who brought her kid to a United Nations conference. She said she was leaving the position with love in her heart despite becoming a target of right-wing extremists on social media.
Ms. Ardern, in what may have been her last appearance before the media as prime minister, smiled warmly as she declined to address political questions, claiming that it was now her successor's job to do so.
The lone candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party was Mr Hipkins, the country's previous COVID minister. His first term in parliament began in 2008, when he was elected.
In 2017, Ardern became the third female leader of New Zealand and one of the youngest leaders in the world at the age of 37. Within a year of taking office, she became just the second global leader to have a child while in power.
Last Thursday, she made public her decision to quit as head of state, reflecting on the many problems she had to deal with during her time in office, including the Covid-19 epidemic and the tragic Christchurch terrorist incident in 2019.