Incoming prime minister Chris Hipkins praised Jacinda Ardern following her shock resignation. Hipkins also named Carmel Sepuloni as his deputy — New Zealand's first person of Pacific Island descent to hold that position.
Story by dw.com
Incoming prime minister Chris Hipkins praised Jacinda Ardern following her shock resignation. Hipkins also named Carmel Sepuloni as his deputy — New Zealand’s first person of Pacific Island descent to hold that position.
New Zealand’s ruling Labour Party chose Chris Hipkins on Sunday to replace Jacinda Ardern as the country’s prime minister.
His appointment came after Ardern announced Thursday she was a stepping down, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank” to lead.
“This is the biggest privilege and biggest responsibility of my life,” Hipkins said at a news conference. “I am energized and excited by the challenge that lies ahead.”
Hipkins, 44, the only nominee for the top job, said he would be sworn in on Wednesday.
He praised Ardern’s leadership, calling her one of New Zealand’s greatest prime ministers. He also criticized some of the personal abuse she was subjected to during her five and a half years in office, saying “we’ve got a way to go to ensure women in leadership receive the same respect as their male counterparts.”
Known as “Chippy,” Hipkins was first elected to parliament in 2008. He was appointed to health minister in July 2020 and later served as the COVID response minister.
Hipkins is taking over as prime minister at a challenging time. His Labour Party trails the center-right National Party opposition in the polls, and the country is expected to fall into recession in the lead to general elections in October.
Labour’s popularity has been sinking amid a public backlash over strict COVD measures, rising living costs and growing concerns about crime.
Hipkins said his government’s focus would switch from the pandemic to boosting the economy.
“COVID-19 and the global pandemic created a health crisis. Now it’s created an economic one and that’s where my government’s focus will be,” he said.
Hipkins named Carmel Sepuloni, 46, as his deputy prime minister — the country’s first person of Pacific Island descent to hold that position. She entered parliament in 2008 and holds a number of portfolios, including social development and employment and arts, culture and heritage.
Sepuloni said it was “huge honor and privilege” to be offered the role.
“I have received so many humbling messages about another glass ceiling being smashed,” she said.
nm/ (dpa, AFP, Reuters)