Chris Hipkins: who is New Zealand prime minister, what has he said about Jacinda Ardern abuse

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Hipkins addressed the abuse in his first speech to parliament, calling the way she had been treated ‘abhorrent’

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will be on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg this weekend.

The 44-year-old was sworn in as the replacement for Jacinda Arden on Wednesday 25 January. It came after Ardern announced she would be stepping down from her role on Thursday 19 January saying she “no longer has enough in the tank” to do the role justice.

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The outgoing PM has faced a slew of threats throughout her tenure, with Hipkins addressing this in his speech to parliament on Sunday 22 January, calling the way she had been treated “abhorrent”.

So who is Chris Hipkins and what has he said about the abuse Jacinda Ardern has faced? Here’s everything you need to know.

Who is Chris Hipkins?

Hipkins is a New Zealand politician who is a member of the ruling Labour Party. The 44-year-old was confirmed as the new party leader on Sunday and will be sworn into office as the PM on Wednesday following Ardern’s shock departure.

Chris Hipkins will become New Zealand’s next Prime Minister (Photo: Getty Images)Chris Hipkins will become New Zealand’s next Prime Minister (Photo: Getty Images)
Chris Hipkins will become New Zealand’s next Prime Minister (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

He first rose to prominence serving as Minister of Health during the Covid pandemic and later as the Covid Response Minister from November 2020 to July 2022. Prior to becoming the incoming PM he was the Minister for Education.

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Hipkins grew up in Hutt Valley near Wellington, referencing it after putting himself forward for the role as party leader. Reported by PA Media, he said: “It’s a big day for a boy from the Hutt.” He added: “I’m really humbled and really proud to be taking this on. It is the biggest responsibility and the biggest privilege of my life.”

Why did Jacinda Ardern step down as New Zealand Prime Minister?

Ardern stepped down from her role on Thursday explaining that she “no longer” had “enough in the tank to do it justice”.

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In her resignation speech, she said: “I am entering now my sixth year in office. And for each of those years, I have given my absolute all. I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging. You cannot, and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus, a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.

“This summer, I had hoped to find a way to prepare for not just another year, but another term – because that is what this year requires. I have not been able to do that.”

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Days following her shock departure, Ardern said she had “no regrets” over her decision to step down and that she was left feeling a “range of emotions”, from sadness to a “sense of relief”.

What has he said about Jacinda Ardern abuse?

During his speech to parliament on Sunday, Hipkins addressed the abuse that Arden had faced as Prime Minister, calling the way she had been treated “abhorrent”.

Chris Hipkins served as the Covid Response Minister and Education Minister under Jacinda Ardern’s government (Photo: Getty Images)Chris Hipkins served as the Covid Response Minister and Education Minister under Jacinda Ardern’s government (Photo: Getty Images)
Chris Hipkins served as the Covid Response Minister and Education Minister under Jacinda Ardern’s government (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Reported by The Independent, Hipkins said: “Jacinda’s leadership has been an inspiration to women and girls everywhere. But it’s also been a reminder that we’ve got a way to go when it comes to ensuring that women in leadership receive the same respect as their male counterparts.”

He continued: “The way Jacinda has been treated, particularly by some segments of our society – and they are a small minority – has been utterly abhorrent.”

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Adding: “We as men have a responsibility to speak up about that. We often leave it to women to say ‘this isn’t OK, and I don’t feel OK about that,’ and many women don’t feel comfortable talking in that way. So I think we as men have a responsibility to call it out when we see it.”

Ardern faced a slew of abuse and death threats throughout her five year tenure as PM. Reported by ABC News, she faced 18 threats of violence against her in 2019, 32 death threats in 2020 and 50 in 2021.

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