Chris Hipkins will become New Zealand’s 41st Prime Minister this week, replacing Jacinda Ardern following her surprise resignation on Thursday.
Hipkins ran unopposed for the leadership of the governing Labour Party.
This is what you need to know about New Zealand’s next PM.
A quick biography
Hipkins initially entered Federal Parliament as a senior adviser to the Education Minister, before beginning work in the office of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark.
In 2008, Hipkins was elected to the House of Representatives seat of Remutaka. This is situated in the Hutt Valley near Wellington, which is where Hipkins is from.
Hipkins’ seat has been held by a Labour representative since its creation in 1996, and is considered a safe Labour seat.
Despite his individual success, the Labour Party lost the 2008 election to the National Party.
They remained in Opposition until 2017, when the Ardern-led Labour Party formed Government.
After holding several senior positions in Opposition, Hipkins was given the Education, Ministerial Services, and State Services Ministries after the 2017 election.
Hipkins’ entry into the national consciousness largely came during the pandemic, when he was appointed the country’s Health Minister, and its first COVID-19 Response Minister.
In these roles, Hipkins – along with Ardern – fronted many of the COVID-19 news conferences, and was a key figure in a pandemic response that drew both praise and criticism for its extensive measures.
Ardern’s close ally
Hipkins had been viewed as a close and reliable ally of Ardern, who had been facing increasing scrutiny in the country amid rising cost of living and crime rates.
After holding the COVID-19 Response Ministry until June last year, Hipkins was appointed as Police Minister by Ardern to help tackle crime.
Following his confirmation as the next Labour leader, Hipkins called Ardern a “very good friend”, and “one of New Zealand’s great Prime Ministers”.
Hipkins inherits a Government that is lagging in public opinion polls ahead of an election in October.
The Government’s key challenges ahead of the election will be similar to those Ardern faced in the past 12 months. This includes economic management amid concerns of a recession, and reducing crime rates.
Hipkins will be sworn in as PM on Wednesday, with Ardern remaining in the position until then.
Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni is set to be sworn in as Hipkins’ deputy. She will be the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister of Pasifika descent.
Hipkins is expected to review the composition of his cabinet this week. Ardern will leave Parliament in April.