Chris Hipkins is set to be sworn in as New Zealand’s new Prime Minister on Wednesday, following the surprise announcement by the outgoing leader Jacinda Ardern that she plans to step down several months ahead of the country’s general election.
Hipkins was unanimously endorsed by the Labour caucus on Sunday, after emerging as the sole potential candidate. At a press conference on Sunday, he expressed his gratitude for the support of his colleagues and his commitment to making the transition as smooth as possible.
Ardern’s announcement on Thursday came as a shock to many, with the Prime Minister stating that she no longer had “enough in the tank” to continue leading the country. She became the world’s youngest female leader when she took office in 2017, and during her tenure, she garnered international attention for a range of issues. This included her response to the 2019 mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, which saw her swiftly ban semi-automatic weapons, as well as her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been widely credited with saving lives.
Hipkins paid tribute to Ardern’s service as Prime Minister on Sunday, noting her inspirational leadership and her remarkable ability to inspire women and girls everywhere. He also acknowledged the “unprecedented” hatred and vitriol that Ardern has faced throughout her tenure. As New Zealand embarks on the transition to the new Prime Minister, the country will be looking to Hipkins to continue the progressive and inclusive policies of his predecessor. With the general election fast approaching, Hipkins will need to hit the ground running and demonstrate his ability to lead New Zealand forward.