Who is Chris Hipkins? New Zealand's next PM after Jacinda Ardern

Who is Chris Hipkins? New Zealand's next PM after Jacinda Ardern

Chris Hipkins is the sole nominee to become the Labour Party Leader

ANIUpdated: Saturday, January 21, 2023, 03:06 PM IST
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Hipkins was first elected to parliament in 2008 and was appointed minister for Covid-19 in November 2020 | Twitter

Chris Hipkins is set to replace Jacinda Ardern as leader of the Labour party and New Zealand's prime minister after being the only candidate to be nominated for the role, the Labour Party said in a statement.

Chris Hipkins is the sole nominee to become the Labour Party Leader, Labour Whip Duncan Webb announced on Saturday, reported New Zealand's public broadcaster, RNZ.

"The Labour Party caucus will meet at 1 pm on Sunday to endorse the nomination and confirm Chris Hipkins as Party Leader," Duncan Webb said

Who is Chris Hipkins?

Hipkins, an experienced career politician with a “fixer” reputation, steered the country through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hipkins was first elected to parliament in 2008 and was appointed minister for Covid-19 in November 2020. This made him a household name for many New Zealanders.

He is currently the minister for police, education and public service.

Hipkins has been widely regarded as a trusted member of Ardern's inner circle and has worked closely together since the outset of their political careers.

Unlike Ardern however, Hipkins is known as a more cutthroat politician, particularly in the debating chamber.

In 1997, Hipkins was arrested on parliament grounds for a protest against education policy He fought the arrest in a 12-year legal battle, eventually securing an apology and compensation for protesters. 

Viral Sensation

His years in politics have also seen some embarrassing moments as well.

When he was police minister, he drew international media attention for a birthday cake made entirely of sausage rolls. He claimed that the creation was a product of “police intelligence-gathering reach[ing] new heights”.

During the COVID-19 response, he became a meme after he urged New Zealanders to go outside and “spread your legs” on national television.

Ardern steps down

Jacinda Ardern's surprise resignation sparked a Labour Party leadership contest.

The shocking decision from Ardern comes after five and a half years of tenure leading New Zealand through the coronavirus pandemic.

Ardern said she knew what the prime minister's job took and believed she "no longer had enough in the tank to do it justice" but there were colleagues who could.

She said her Government had achieved a lot and she was not standing down because she did not believe Labour could win the next election, but because she thought it could.

Speaking to the media, Ardern said there was no special "angle" or "real reason" why she wanted to resign, only that she was "human".

"To Neve, mum is looking forward to being there when you start school next year. To Clarke, let's finally get married." Nominations for the position of leader, and Prime Minister, had to be received by 9 am today (local time), reported RNZ.

The nomination needed the support of at least 10 per cent of the caucus - seven MPs - not including Hipkins.

It was the party's first vote of its kind since 2017.

Hipkins still has to be formally endorsed by the caucus at a meeting on Sunday, reported RNZ

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