New Zealand Labour leader Chris Hipkins sworn in as PM

New Zealand Labour leader Chris Hipkins sworn in as PM

After the resignation of the outgoing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week, Labour leader Chris Hipkins was sworn in as Prime Minister of New Zealand in a formal ceremony on Wednesday.

The Labour party has elected former COVID 19 Response and Police Minister Hipkins, 44, to lead the party and country on Sunday. This comes after Ardern, 42, resigned after she said she had no more in the tank to lead the country.

Hundreds of people gathered in the grounds of Parliament as Ardern left for the last time, hugging each of her members of parliament in turn, with many looking visibly emotional.

She then travelled to Government House where she gave her resignation to King Charles' representative in New Zealand, Cindy Kiro, Governor General.

Hipkins and his deputy Carmel Sepuloni -- the first person of Pacific Islander descent to hold the role - were sworn in in a ceremony lasting a few minutes.

Hipkins, who has not commented on his policies since being elected leader, will hold his first cabinet meeting later on Wednesday.

Chippy Hipkins is well-known to New Zealanders for his competence in tackling COVID 19, though he acknowledged some mistakes in handling the pandemic and faces a tough battle to retain power in an October general election.

A 1 news-Kantar poll released in December had Labour support falling to 33% from 40% at the beginning of 2022, which means Labour would not be able to form a majority even with traditional coalition partner the Green Party at 9%. The opposition National Party has benefited from Labour's decline.