Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s former Covid-19 response minister, will replace Jacinda Ardern as prime minister after receiving the only nomination from fellow MPs, the ruling Labour Party said on Saturday.
Hipkins, 44, must be formally endorsed by the party’s caucus on Sunday to take over as the country’s 41st prime minister, after Ardern’s surprise resignation Thursday.
“The Labour Party caucus will meet at 1 pm on Sunday to endorse the nomination and confirm Chris Hipkins as Party Leader,” senior Labour Party member Duncan Webb said in a statement.
Hipkins is possibly the first-ever minister to answer a parliamentary question via a meme.
In February last year, the Minister of Education was asked in written question by National’s Erica that “Has the Minister met with the Minister for Covid-19 response to request that MIQ spots be allocated to teachers granted a border exception; and if so, on what date, if not, why not?”
Hopkins replied simply, “Please refer attached.”
In August 2021, Kiwis during a press conference got quite the surprise when the then-Covid-19 response minister said it was hard for people to “spread” their legs in lockdown.
He was discussing what is and isn’t allowed during alert level four restrictions when he made the amusing slip-up. “Look, it is a challenge in higher density areas for people to get outside and to spread their legs when they are ahh, um, ahh when they are surrounded by other people.”
Internet users instantly jumped on his comment sharing memes, TikToks, and tweets about the unfortunate phrase.
However, at the end of the conference, Hipkins admitted his
blunder, joking “right, I shall go and stretch my legs, I’m sure you will
all have fun with me later”. He even got a shoutout from New Zealand’s
first man Clarke Gayford.