Outgoing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was formally replaced on Wednesday with the inauguration of her successor, Chris Hipkins, during a ceremony in Wellington.
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“It is the greatest privilege and responsibility of my life,” said Mr. Hipkins, 44, and said he was “motivated” and “excited” by the “challenges ahead.”
Chris Hipkins was being hailed for his nearly two-year tenure as Minister responsible for fighting COVID-19 in a country that closed its borders to contain the pandemic and only reopened in August 2022.
Jacinda Ardern stunned New Zealand when she announced her sudden departure from power less than three years after winning a second term in a landslide election victory.
Ms Ardern, 42, said last week she didn’t have “enough energy” to continue her duties after five years marked by a deadly volcanic eruption, the country’s worst attack on record and the coronavirus pandemic .
“I leave with a feeling of gratitude after fulfilling this wonderful role for so many years,” she told reporters in Ratana (North) on Tuesday during her last public visit as prime minister.
His Labor government’s popularity has waned in recent months amid a looming recession and a resurgence in Conservative opposition.
Her resignation sparked a nationwide debate about the vilification of women leaders, particularly on social media.
Chris Hipkins has called the attacks she suffered as head of state “absolutely abhorrent”.
However, Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday she “hated” that her sudden departure was seen as criticism of her country.