Wellington: Chris Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand Prime Minister on Wednesday, with his predecessor Jacinda Ardern officially tendering her resignation.
The swearing-in ceremony held in parliament saw Hipkins officially taking up the top job and Carmel Sepuloni becoming the deputy prime minister.
Prime Minister Hipkins will reshuffle the cabinet next week. Besides the top leadership role, Hipkins himself will be the minister of national security and intelligence.
Tackling inflation will be his priority, he said, as Stats NZ released on Wednesday the growth of New Zealand’s consumers price index remained 7.2 percent in the 12 months to December 2022.
Announcing her resignation last Thursday, Ardern said, after five and a half years of the top leadership role, she could not keep going for another year or term after careful consideration.
“Being prime minister has been the greatest honor of my life,” Ardern said, citing her cabinet’s achievement in alleviating child poverty and increasing welfare support and public housing stock.
On Tuesday with the presence of her successor Hipkins, Ardern made a de facto farewell speech as New Zealand prime minister.
The outgoing Labor leader on her last day as prime minister said her departure should not be viewed as a negative commentary on New Zealand.
“I have experienced such love, compassion, empathy and kindness when I’ve been in this job — that has been my predominant experience,” Ardern said while visiting the town of Ratana with Hipkins.
Ardern said she is not going anywhere and will still be the Member of Parliament for Mt Albert and she will be away from the center of politics.
Travelling with Ardern, Hipkins said he and Ardern have reflected on the last few years, adding “it’s a bittersweet moment.”
New Zealand’s 2023 general election will be held on Oct. 14, 2023.