Take a look at the profile of Jacinda Ardern's ally Chris Hipkins, who was sworn in as New Zealand’s 41st prime minister on January 25.
Chris Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand's 41st Prime Minister on Wednesday (January 25). The move comes after the unexpected resignation of Jacinda Ardern last week. Hipkins, 44, has promised a back-to-basics approach with a focus on the economy and what he described as the “pandemic of inflation.”
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After he was sworn in, Hipkins thanked his family and team for their support and said he was humbled and honoured to take on the role of prime minister. “It's a big day for a boy from the Hutt,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.
Carmel Sepuloni of the Labour Party was sworn in as the Deputy Prime Minister. This is the first time a person with Pacific Island heritage has taken on the role of Deputy PM in New Zealand.
Hipkins was the minister charged with designing and implementing New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. It made him a household name in the country as he was a regular fixture at daily press conferences alongside Ardern.
Who is Chris Hipkins?
Chris Hipkins has been widely regarded as a trusted member of Jacinda Adern’s inner circle since her leadership began. He has held several important positions including Minister of Education, Minister for the Public Service, and Leader of the House. He served as the Minister of Police as well, prior to becoming the Prime Minister.
Hipkins has a bachelor’s degree in Politics and Criminology from Victoria University in New Zealand. He started his involvement in politics as the president of the Victoria University Students’ Association. He was arrested on parliament grounds for a protest against education policy in 1997. Hipkins fought the arrest for 12 years and eventually secured an apology and compensation for protesters. He recalls the events as “a defining moment for me” that spurred him into parliamentary politics, The Guardian reported.
Hipkins and Ardern have worked closely since the beginning of their political careers. Both worked as young operatives and advisers under the Clark government, and they entered parliament as opposition MPs in the 2008 cohort.
In November 2020, he was designated as the Minister for Covid-19 Response, in addition to his duties as the Minister of Education, Minister for the Public Service, and Leader of the House.
Soon Hipkins became a household name in New Zealand, as he appeared on television and mobile phone screens next to PM Ardern during her extensive press conferences.
Over the years, several funny moments propelled him into viral memes and global headlines.
He became a meme after a televised national announcement in which he recommended New Zealanders go outside and “spread your legs” instead of saying “stretch your legs.” The minister embraced the trolls and leaned into the catchphrase “spread your legs, not the virus” as a pandemic health message.
Hipkins married Jade in 2020, in a ceremony at Ardern’s official residence, Premier House. He has two children. His biography describes him as an “outdoor enthusiast”, and his interests include mountain biking, tramping, and swimming.
(Edited by : Jerome Anthony)