New Zealand's ruling party confirms Hipkins as new prime minister

Mr Chris Hipkins, New Zealand's incoming prime minister, was the only nomination for the job. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WELLINGTON - New Zealand’s ruling Labour Party selected Chris Hipkins to replace Jacinda Ardern as leader of the Labour party and prime minister in a meeting on Sunday.

Mr Hipkins, 44, was the only nomination for the job.

His confirmation by the 64 lawmakers, known as the Labour caucus, was largely a formality.

Mr Hipkins is to be sworn in on Wednesday.

Mr Hipkins’ appointment to the top job followed the surprise resignation by Ms Ardern on Thursday who said she had “no more in the tank” to lead the country.

Known as “Chippy”, Mr Hipkins built a reputation for competence in tackling Covid-19 and was a troubleshooter for Ms Ardern when other Cabinet ministers were struggling.

He was first elected to parliament for the Labour Party in 2008 and became a household name fronting the government’s response to the pandemic. He was appointed health minister in July 2020 before becoming the Covid response minister at the end of the year.

The ruling party is expected to hold a press conference shortly to officially announce the decision from the caucus meeting.

However, most local media organisations are already reporting the results and party members have tweeted congratulatory messages.

The party has also selected Carmel Sepuloni as the deputy prime minister, Radio New Zealand and other media reported.

Ms Sepuloni, 46, is of Samoan, Tongan and New Zealand European decent and lives in Auckland. She currently holds a number of portfolios including social development and employment and arts, culture and heritage.

Grant Robertson, who is currently Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, is expected to hold onto the job of Finance Minister.

Before Mr Hipkins officially becomes prime minister, Ms Ardern must tender her resignation to King Charles III’s representative in New Zealand, Governor General Cindy Kiro.

Following that Ms Kiro would appoint Mr Hipkins to the role and he will be sworn in on Wednesday. REUTERS

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