New Zealand's Chris Hipkins soon to be officially appointed prime minister

New Zealand Police Minister Chris Hipkins speaks to media outside Parliament House in Wellington, New Zealand, 21 January 2023. Photo: EPA/BEN MCKAY

Labour leader Chris Hipkins is set to be appointed by New Zealand’s Governor General as prime minister in a formal ceremony on Wednesday, the government announced following the resignation of outgoing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week.

Aged 44, Hipkins was elected by the Labour party on Sunday riding the wave of his former position as the COVID-19 Response and Police minister. His goal will now be to lead the party and the country. The development comes after the surprise resignation of Ardern, 42, who said she had “no more in the tank” to lead the country.

Ardern will tender her resignation to King Charles’ representative in New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro before Hipkins becomes prime minister. Kiro will then appoint Hipkins to the role with the swearing-in ceremony coming next.

Before Hipkins faces the media, he is set to hold his first meeting with Labour ministers.

Born in the Hutt Valley in 1978 to Doug and Rosemary, the chief researcher for the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, Hipkins attended Waterloo Primary School and Hutt Intermediate. He was head boy at Hutt Valley Memorial College in 1996.

Hipkins enrolled at the Victoria University of Wellington for undergraduate education. In September 1997, as a first-year student, Hipkins was one of dozens arrested while protesting the Tertiary Review Green Bill at Parliament. The matter was put through the courts concluding 10 years later with an apology and award of over USD 200,000 shared among the 41 protesters. The judge ruled that the protest was peaceful and there were no grounds for arrest, despite claims by police that the protestors were violent. There he was student president in 2000 and 2001.

Hipkins graduated from the Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Arts with a major in politics and criminology. Following graduation, Hipkins held a number of jobs, including working as a policy advisor for the Industry Training Federation, and as a training manager for Todd Energy in Taranaki. Hipkins also worked in Parliament as an advisor to Trevor Mallard and Helen Clark.

His parliamentary career kicked off in 2008 when he was selected to stand in the Labour-held seat of Rimutaka (renamed Remutaka in 2020) in the general election of that year.