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New Zealand’s Chris Hipkins set to succeed Jacinda Ardern as prime minister

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Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s education minister, is set to become the country’s next prime minister after he was unopposed in a party contest on Saturday to replace Jacinda Ardern.

Hipkins, 44, is expected to be confirmed as party leader at a meeting of Labour Party lawmakers on Sunday, according to media reports.

“The Labour Party caucus will meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday to endorse the nomination and confirm Chris Hipkins as Party Leader,” senior Labour Party member Duncan Webb said in a statement carried by media. As leader of the Labour Party, Hipkins will then become prime minister.

“I am absolutely humbled and honored,” Hipkins told reporters in Wellington, adding that “there is still a bit to go in this process.”

Hipkins rose in public visibility during the coronavirus pandemic, when he served as New Zealand’s COVID-19 response chief. 

Ardern on Thursday said she would resign as prime minister in coming days, in a shock announcement. She also confirmed that New Zealand’s national elections will take place on October 14.

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