Updated Jan 22, 2023 - World

Chris Hipkins to replace Ardern as New Zealand's prime minister

Chris Hipkins, New Zealand's incoming prime minister, during a news conference at the executive wing of the Parliamentary complex in Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday, Jan. 23. Photo: Mark Coote/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chris Hipkins, New Zealand's education minister, on Sunday was confirmed as New Zealand’s next prime minister, replacing Jacinda Ardern after she announced her resignation earlier last week.

Driving the news: Hipkins, who had emerged as the only potential candidate from the country’s ruling Labor Party, chose Carmel Sepuloni as his deputy, marking the first time a person with Pacific Island heritage has risen to that rank, AP reports.

  • Hipkins will be officially sworn in to his new role on Wednesday.
  • He will hold the position until the party's term ends. The country’s next general election is scheduled for Oct. 14.

Context: Hipkins, considered a lifelong politician, joined the Parliament in 2008 and rose in notability during the pandemic as he served in Ardern’s cabinet, CNN reports.

  • While serving as education minister, he also works as the minister for police and public service, and is New Zealand’s Leader of the House.
  • Like Hipkins, Sepuloni first became a lawmaker 15 years ago and has most recently taken on the employment and social development portfolios in the country, per AP.
  • “I want to acknowledge the significance of this for our Pacific community,” Sepuloni said. “I am proudly Samoan, Tongan and New Zealand European, and represent generations of New Zealanders with mixed heritage.”

How we got here: Ardern announced Jan. 19 that she would step down as New Zealand’s leader, saying she no longer has "that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.”

  • "I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused," she said. "And that you can be your own kind of leader — one who knows when it's time to go."

Ardern's leadership of New Zealand put her on the map as a major global figure. She guided the country through a mass shooting, and helped pass major gun control measures in its aftermath. She was praised for her handling of both that situation and guiding the country through the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Go deeper: Ardern's exit after "unprecedented" threats shows toll of burnout for women leaders

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