Chris Hipkins was on Saturday named as the sole Labour Party candidate to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand’s Prime Minister. The 44-year-old currently serves as the minister for police, education and public service. He was appointed as the minister for COVID-19 in November 2020. 

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“The Labour Party caucus will meet at 1pm on Sunday to endorse the nomination and confirm Chris Hipkins as leader,” Labour Party Whip Duncan Webb said in the statement. New Zealand’s next general election will be held on October 14.

Ardern on Thursday said that she is stepping down from the post as she ‘did not have enough in the tank’ to lead. 

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“These events… have been taxing because of the weight, the sheer weight and continual nature of them. There’s never really been a moment where it’s ever felt like we were just governing,” the 42-year-old said, adding that she will step down on February 7. 

Hipkins was first elected to parliament in 2008. His ‘spread your legs’ quote during the COVID pandemic was named the quote of the year at The Project’s 2021 awards. 

In the famous slip of the tongue incident,  he said it would be a “challenge for people in high-density areas to get outside and spread their legs when they are surrounded by other people”.

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If the Labour Party gives its formal approval to Hipkins on Sunday, Ardern will formally submit her resignation to New Zealand’s Governor General. Her successor can be appointed next week. 

As per local media outlets, Labour MPs may re-think their deputy leader role, currently held by Kelvin Davis. Kiritapu Allan and Carmel Sepuloni are probable candidates to assist Hipkins.