The abrupt resignation of Jacinda Ardern as prime minister of New Zealand, which shocked the nation, was officially announced on Wednesday.
The governor-general of New Zealand administered the oath of office to 44-year-old Chris Hipkins during a ceremony in the nation’s capital, Wellington.
Hipkins declared after officially taking office that “this is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life.”
“The challenges ahead excite and energise me.”
After leading the nation through a series of natural disasters, its worst-ever terrorist attack, and the Covid-19 outbreak, Ardern claimed last week that she no longer had “enough in the tank.”
Earlier on Wednesday, she made her final public appearance as prime minister, leaving parliament to a rousing burst of applause from hundreds of spectators.
Her centre-left government has increasingly struggled over the past two years, hampered by soaring inflation, a looming recession and a resurgent conservative opposition.
Hipkins, the architect of New Zealand’s pandemic response, is now tasked with reviving the government’s sagging popularity ahead of a general election in October.
The father-of-two is nicknamed “Chippy” and describes himself as a “regular, ordinary Kiwi” from a working-class background who loves sausage rolls and cycling to work.
“Covid-19 and the global pandemic created a health crisis. Now it’s created an economic one and that’s where my government’s focus will be,” Hipkins has said previously.
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