Wellington: Chris Hipkins was sworn as New Zealand’s 41st prime minister, following the unexpected resignation last week of Jacinda Ardern.
Hipkins, 44, has promised a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the “pandemic of inflation.” He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his Labour Party is trailing its conservative opposition.
New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro officiated the brief swearing-in ceremony in front of friends and colleagues after earlier accepting Ardern’s resignation.
After the ceremony, Hipkins said as an aside to reporters: “It feels pretty real now.” Hipkins is known to many by the nickname “Chippy,” which fits with his upbeat demeanor and skills as an amateur handyman.
He served as education and police minister under Ardern. He rose to public prominence during the Covid-19 pandemic, when he took on a kind of crisis management role.
Ardern made her final public appearance as prime minister, saying the thing she would miss most was the people because they had been the “joy of the job.”