Chris Hipkins, who will take over as Prime Minister of New Zealand soon, successfully led the nation through the Covid epidemic. An seasoned professional politician with a reputation as a “fixer,” he now has a new challenge: turning around Labour’s months-long polling slump and recapturing supporters in the aftermath of Jacinda Ardern’s unexpected resignation.
Hipkins, who is now 44 years old, was the minister largely tasked with developing and putting into action New Zealand’s reaction to Covid. Because of this, many people in New Zealand were familiar with his name, and he became a constant presence at the daily news conferences that Jacinda Ardern held.
Even though the elimination strategy was criticised by some commentators from other countries and gave rise to conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine campaigns, it did enable New Zealand to protect its population to a large extent until the vast majority of its citizens were vaccinated, resulting in record-low rates of death, serious illness, and economic disruption. Hipkins will be hoping that New Zealanders can still look back on this time period with a sense of pride, particularly with regard to the general election that will take place on October 14th.
In the corridors of government, he is known as “Chippy,” which is a moniker derived from his initials that may have stuck due to an enthusiastic and perhaps schoolboyish demeanour on his part. Hipkins has a reputation in parliament for having a sense of humour, making quick quips, and having a self-deprecating streak. These are characteristics that New Zealanders have a tendency to look for in the political leaders of their country.
When reporters asked him to introduce himself to the nation, he responded by saying, “maybe I don’t have the best fashion sense in parliament.” He was referring to an unexpected television interview that he gave on Friday, during which he appeared wearing a baseball cap, a hoodie, and reflective, wraparound glasses. When he was asked whether he was the first prime minister to have ginger hair, he said, “It’s about time we had a ginger at the top.”
Over the course of his career, a combination of spur-of-the-moment occurrences and culinary tastes that centre on baked goods have catapulted him into viral moments and worldwide headlines. Because he “appears to consume nothing much more than sausage rolls and Diet Coke,” the previous Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, selected him as the Member of Parliament who he would least want to be put in lockdown with. As the Minister of Police, he gained worldwide notoriety for a birthday cake made entirely of sausage rolls. He said that the delicacy was the result of “police intelligence-gathering reaching new heights.”
Hipkins began his engagement in politics by holding the position of president of the Victoria University Students’ Association. In 1997, he was detained on the grounds of parliament for participating in a demonstration against the education policy. Hipkins battled the arrest in a court struggle that lasted for 12 years, and finally he was able to get an apology and compensation for demonstrators. Hipkins is a stickler for procedure, and he is not frightened of political conflicts. He referred to the occurrences of that day as “a defining moment for me,” saying that they were the catalyst that led him to enter legislative politics.
Hipkins has been generally regarded as a reliable member of Ardern’s inner circle ever since she took power, and as a result, she has given him hefty duties in education, police, COVID response, public service, and as leader of the house. Both he and Ardern began their political careers working for the Clark government as young operatives and advisers, and they were both elected to parliament as opposition MPs in the same class of 2008. They have collaborated extensively together since the beginning of their respective political careers. Hipkins said at the time that Ardern had consented to host the event and that it will take place at Premier House, which is the prime minister’s official house.
There is a little probability that Hipkins will bring the same star power that Ardern did. Instead, he will try to personify the straightforwardness and fundamental principles of the Labour Party by virtue of the fact that he was born, raised, and is currently a member of parliament for the Hutt Valley, a region outside of Wellington that has lower incomes, higher poverty rates, and rougher edges than the capital city.
In the year 2020, Hipkins wed his girlfriend Jade, and the couple now had two children. He said that he was both humbled and honoured to take on the job of prime minister, and he thanked his family and his staff for their support during the process.