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Chris Hipkins becomes 41st Prime Minister of New Zealand

WELLINGTON: Labour leader Chris Hipkins became New Zealand’s 41st prime minister on Wednesday.

The 44-yeard-old was elected by New Zealand Labour Party as the next person to lead the country after Jacinda Ardern resigned from the post last week.

Hipkins previously served as the Covid-19 Response and Police Minister.

Hipkins and his deputy Carmel Sepuloni — the first person of Pacific Islander descent to hold the role — were then sworn in, in a ceremony lasting a few minutes.

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“New Zealanders will absolutely see in the coming weeks and months that cost of living is right at the heart of our work programme,” Hipkins told journalists shortly after heading a cabinet meeting.

“It is the number one priority that we are facing as a government and they will see tangible evidence of that. Obviously I’m not going to make it up on the fly, as I’ve already indicated.”

Hipkins said he would honour commitments already made for the current term of parliament.

Known as “Chippy”, Hipkins is well-known to New Zealanders for his competence in tackling Covid-19, though he acknowledged some mistakes in handling the pandemic and faces a tough battle to retain power in an October general election.

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