Prince William and Kate thank Jacinda Ardern for ‘friendship and leadership’ as new prime minister takes office

Jacinda Ardern’s last day as prime minister – Reuters

New Zealand officially has a new prime minister and Jacinda Ardern spends her last day in office before handing over to Chris Hipkins.

Hipkins, 44, was sworn in as New Zealand’s 41st Prime Minister in a ceremony presided over by Governor General Cindy Kiro. Ms Kiro, who represents King Charles, had earlier accepted Ms Ardern’s official resignation.

Prince William and his wife Kate thanked Ms Ardern on Twitter:

They wrote: “For your friendship, leadership and support over the years, especially at the time of my grandmother’s death. Sending you Clarke and Neve our best wishes. TOILETS”.

Clarke Gayford is Mrs. Ardern’s fiancé and Neve is their four-year-old daughter.

Mr Hipkins will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with polls showing his Labor Party trailing behind the Conservative opposition.

He promised a “back to basics” approach.

“This is the greatest privilege and responsibility of my life,” said Mr. Hipkins at the ceremony. “I am full of energy and excited about the challenges ahead of us.”

Chris Hipkins at the ceremony - Reuters

Chris Hipkins at the ceremony – Reuters

Carmel Sepuloni was also sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister, the first time someone with Pacific Island heritage had taken over the role. She congratulated Mr. Hipkins and thanked him for the trust he had placed in her.

Ms Ardern said last week she was resigning after more than five years in the role because there was no longer “enough in the tank” to do the job fairly. “It’s that simple,” she said.

She made her final official appearance as prime minister on Tuesday, saying she would miss the people the most because they were “the joy of working”.

On Wednesday morning, she was greeted with hugs and farewells by dozens of former staff and admirers in Parliament’s courtyard as she left the building.

Well-wishers hugged Ms Ardern - Reuters

Well-wishers hugged Ms Ardern – Reuters

After the ceremony, the new prime minister told reporters: “Now it seems quite real.”

Mr. Hipkins is known to many by the nickname “Chippy”, which befits his optimistic demeanor and skills as an amateur handyman.

He served as Minister of Education and Police under Mrs Ardern. He publicly gained notoriety during the Covid-19 pandemic when he adopted something like crisis management. But he and other liberals have long been overshadowed by Ms Ardern, who has become a global icon of the left and an example of a new style of leadership.

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