Chris Hipkins confirmed as New Zealand leader, chooses his deputy

Chris Hipkins confirmed as New Zealand leader, chooses his deputy

Chris Hipkins confirmed as New Zealand leader, chooses his deputy

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Chris Hipkins was confirmed as New Zealand’s next prime minister on Sunday and he has chosen Carmel Sepuloni as his deputy, marking the first time a person from the Pacific Islands has ascended to this position. rank.

Hipkins won the unanimous backing of his Labor Party lawmakers after being the only candidate to enter the contest to replace Jacinda Ardern, who shocked the nation on Thursday when she announced she was stepping down after more than five years at the helm.

Hipkins will be officially sworn into his new role on Wednesday. He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his party is trailing his Conservative opposition.

The lack of other leadership candidates indicated that party lawmakers had rallied behind Hipkins to avoid a drawn-out contest and any sign of disunity after Ardern’s departure.

In setting his priorities, Hipkins said he knew many families were struggling due to the “inflation pandemic” and that the economy would be at the heart of his government’s thinking.

Asked if he would take the same transformational approach to government that Ardern promised after winning the top job, Hipkins said he wanted to get back to basics.

“We will put in place a very strong government that is focused on the core issues that matter to New Zealanders and are relevant to the times we are in now,” Hipkins said. “2017 was five and a half years ago, and a lot has happened since then.”

Like Hipkins, Sepuloni first became a lawmaker 15 years ago and recently assumed the social development and employment portfolios as one of the government’s top ministers.

She said it was “very hard to imagine a working class girl” from a small town in New Zealand becoming deputy prime minister.

“I want to recognize how important this is to our Pacific community,” Sepuloni said. “I am proudly Samoan, Tongan and European New Zealander, and I represent generations of New Zealanders of mixed background.”

Sepuloni said she has already received many humbling messages about yet another broken glass ceiling.

Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon told reporters he congratulated Hipkins via text message. But Luxon said Hipkins and Sepuloni had been part of a government that had “failed spectacularly” to get things done and after the leadership change it would be more or less the same.

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