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ABC News
ABC News
Toby Mann, foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic and wires

Chris Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand prime minister following Jacinda Ardern's surprise resignation

Chris Hipkins has been sworn in as prime minister of New Zealand in a formal ceremony following the resignation of Jacinda Ardern.

The Labour Party elected the former COVID-19 response and police minister Mr Hipkins, 44, to lead the party and the country on Sunday.

It comes after the surprise resignation of Ms Ardern, 42, who said she had "no more in the tank" to lead the country.

Before Mr Hipkins became prime minister, Ms Ardern tendered her resignation to King Charles's representative in New Zealand, Governor-General Cindy Kiro.

Mr Hipkins and his deputy Carmel Sepuloni — the first person of Pacific Islander descent to hold the role — were then sworn in, in a ceremony lasting a few minutes.

"Congratulations, Prime Minister Hipkins," Dame Kiro said to applause from those at the ceremony.

Mr Hipkins was the only nominee to replace Ms Ardern.

"This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life. I am energised and excited by the challenges ahead," he said after being sworn in.

Ms Sepuloni thanked the new prime minister for putting his trust in her.

"Thank you for honouring me, my family and our Pacific community through this appointment," she said.

Ms Ardern on Tuesday 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".

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the greatest privilege of my life," Ms Ardern said.

Hipkins faces tough months before election

Mr Hipkins has promised a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the "pandemic of inflation."

He is due to hold his first cabinet meeting as leader later on Wednesday.

Mr Hipkins is also likely to visit Australia in coming weeks for his first face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese since taking office.

Mr Albanese struck up a quick rapport with Ms Ardern and won favour in Wellington by promising to reconsider the use of tough visa cancellation rules, which have led to thousands of people being deported to New Zealand after committing crimes in Australia.

New Zealand maintains many of those "sent back" to New Zealand have little or no connection to the country having spent most or all of their lives in Australia.

Mr Hipkins, who is known in New Zealand as "Chippy", will have less than eight months in the role before contesting a general election on October 14.

He faces a tough battle to retain power.

A 1News-Kantar poll released in December had Labour's support falling to 33 per cent from 40 per cent at the start of 2022, meaning Labour would not be able to form a majority even with traditional coalition partner the Green Party at 9 per cent.

The opposition National Party has benefited from Labour's decline.

Jacinda Ardern says she is ready to be a backbench MP, sister and mother.


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