Chris Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand's Prime Minister


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

Hipkins, 44, and his deputy Carmel Sepuloni - the first person of Pacific Islander descent to hold the role - were sworn in by New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro, in a ceremony lasting a few minutes.

Before the ceremony, outgoing New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern left parliament for the last time as prime minister of the nation on Wednesday amidst applause and hugs from those waiting to say farewell.

Ardern walked out of the New Zealand parliament building, affectionately known as the Beehive, with partner Clarke Gayford.

When asked by local media how he felt, Gayford replied "relieved."

The Labour party elected former Covid-19 Response, Police, education and public service minister as well as the leader of the House to lead the party and the country on Sunday (January 22). This comes after the surprise resignation of Ardern, 42, who said she had "no more in the tank" to lead the country.

Hipkins, who has so far refused to comment on his policies since being elected leader, will hold his first cabinet meeting later on Wednesday.

First elected to parliament for the Labour Party in 2008, the 44-year-old Hipkins became a household name fronting the government's response to the pandemic after being appointed minister for Covid-19 in November 2020.

A general election will be held on Oct. 14, with some opinion polls showing Labour will struggle to hold on to power.

Abroad, Ardern was a global icon for left-leaning politics and women in leadership, but domestically she has struggled to connect with rural New Zealand resulting in her and her party’s popularity plummeting after five and a half years marked by upheavals such as Covid, a massacre of Muslims by a white supremacist and a deadly volcano.

The government has pursued a number of new legislations aimed at improving environmental outcomes including bills to reduce animal waste and fertilizer polluting waterways, changes to the leases farmers have for High Country stations and an overhaul of water infrastructure across the country and most recently the announcement that New Zealand farmers will have to pay for agricultural emissions from 2025.

"This emissions tax, you know, the 'fart tax' it's going to mean, like all these cattle here, it's going to be three hundred and thirty dollars per head. So on a farm like this, it's about a hundred and thirty, hundred and forty thousand a year extra tax farmers are going to have to find," said farmer and Auckland representative of Groundswell NZ, Scotty Bright on Saturday (January 21)

"It appeared that they (Labour) are in their own bubble and they didn't really know the facts of what the farmers deal with on a daily basis," added Bright.

Farm lobby group Groundswell NZ was founded by two rural farmers, aiming to empower rural voices, stand up against unworkable regulations and policies and seek solutions to environmental concerns.

New Zealand farmers are some of the most efficient in the world. They receive minimal agricultural subsidies but continue to be able to compete with farmers in the likes of the United States due to good farming practices, good farmland and a climate that allows for all-year pastoral farming.