New Zealand’s ruling Labour Party on Sunday selected Chris Hipkins to replace Jacinda Ardern as its new leader and the 41st prime minister of the country, Radio New Zealand reported.
Hipkins, 44, was the only nomination for the job and his confirmation in a meeting on Sunday by the 64 lawmakers, known as the Labour caucus, was largely a formality.
Hipkins’ appointment to the top job followed the surprise resignation by Ardern on Thursday who said she had “no more in the tank” to lead the country.
Known as “Chippy”, Hipkins built a reputation for competence in tackling COVID-19 and was a troubleshooter for Ardern when other cabinet ministers were struggling.
He was first elected to parliament for the Labour Party in 2008 and became a household name fronting the government’s response to the pandemic. He was appointed health minister in July 2020 before becoming the COVID response minister at the end of the year.
The ruling party is expected to hold a press conference shortly to officially announce the decision from the caucus meeting. However, most local media organisations are already reporting the results and party members have tweeted congratulatory messages.
The party has also selected Carmel Sepuloni as the deputy prime minister, Radio New Zealand and other media reported.
Sepuloni, 46, is of Samoan, Tongan and New Zealand European decent and lives in Auckland .She currently holds a number of portfolios including social development and employment and arts, culture and heritage.
Grant Robertson, who is currently Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, is expected to hold onto the job of Finance Minister.
Before Hipkins officially becomes prime minister, Ardern must tender her resignation to King Charles III’s representative in New Zealand, Governor General Cindy Kiro. Following that Kiro would appoint Hipkins to the role and he will be sworn in.