Chris Hipkins was sworn in Wednesday as New Zealand’s 41st prime minister, following the unexpected resignation last week of Jacinda Ardern.
Hipkins, 44, has promised a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the “pandemic of inflation.”
He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his Labour Party is trailing its conservative opposition.
New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro officiated the swearing in ceremony after earlier accepting Ardern’s resignation.
Hipkins served as education and police minister under Ardern. He rose to public prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he took on a kind of crisis management role. But he and other liberals have long been in the shadow of Ardern, who became a global icon of the left and exemplified a new style of leadership.
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.”
New Zealand’s head-of-state is Britain’s King Charles III, and Kiro is his representative in New Zealand, although these days the nation’s relationship with the monarchy is largely symbolic.