21 Jan 2023

Politicians react to news of Chris Hipkins as PM

2:28 pm on 21 January 2023
Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education.

Chris Hipkins was named the sole contender for the Labour Party leadership. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Politicians across the divide have released statements of congratulations for Chris Hipkins as he steps into the role of prime minister.

Minister Kiri Allan said on Instagram that over the past 48 hours caucus had the opportunity to think deeply about the attributes New Zealand needs in a new leader to take the country forward.

RNZ understands Allan is not running to be Chris Hipkins' deputy.

"I am so proud to support Chris Hipkins as our leader for the New Zealand Labour Party," she wrote.

"Chris is decisive and will be an incredibly strong Prime Minister. He is extremely competent, with a track record of delivering for New Zealand as one of our most senior ministers over the past six years.

"Our team are a deep pool of talent, unified in our values and approach, who will continue to work hard every single day to make sure the voices of all New Zealanders are heard at the decision making table.

"2023 - we're ready. Now, let's go."

Carmel Sepuloni tweeted a photo of herself and Hipkins from days gone by and said Hipkins had incredible political nous and instinct, was decisive and knew how to navigate government - both inside and out.

"Off the back of the exceptional leadership of Jacinda & Grant, I'm confident that Chris has what it takes to take NZ forward. Now let's get on with the mahi!"

Grant Robertson posted a photo of Labour MPs who did the Oxfam Trailwalk, including Jacinda Ardern and Hipkins.

"My mate Chippy has been there through thick and thin," he wrote.

"He is experienced and deeply grounded in Labour values. When I think of him, one of the first things that pops into my mind is that he is an amazing Dad. His care and love for his kids is something I so admire. He is going to be a great Leader and PM. Still a bit of our process to go, but very proud of our Labour team!"

Deputy leader of Labour Party Grant Robertson

Grant Robertson says Chris Hipkins is a devoted dad and an experienced politician. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Michael Wood, who some thought could be a main contender, has tweeted that Hipkins was the right person to lead Labour and the country.

"In Chris we have a tough, principled leader who will make the hard calls where required, and govern as all Labour leaders should - for the many.

"Our opponents are politically lazy, have no meaningful message or policy, and instinctively stand with the most privileged at a time when we need social solidarity. We are united, disciplined, and focused on both the pressing issues of 2023 such as cost of living, and the long term challenges that cannot be ignored like climate change.

"Under Chris we will take our vision and policies to NZ and the fight to those who would take us backwards. There is much at stake and we intend to govern well, and then win."

Labour president Jill Day congratulated Hipkins as "our new PM and Labour leader".

"I'm so looking forward to working with you to advance Labour values and policies. You're going to do an amazing job. I'm so proud of our whole caucus today. A seamless transition in under 48 hours is an incredible effort."

Speaking to RNZ, Green Party co-leader James Shaw said he has been impressed with Hipkins "at every turn".

"He's taken on some of the toughest jobs in government and done a really good job of them, so I think he'll be excellent."

Hipkins brings strength to his work as a minister and upholds Labour Party values, Shaw said.

The Greens did not agree with the Labour Party on everything, he said, but the working relationship has been really constructive.

When asked who Shaw would like to see as deputy prime minister, he said the Labour Party has a number of strong candidates including the current deputy prime minister, Grant Robertson.

The ACT Party congratulated Hipkins but leader David Seymour said he faced a major challenge leading a party that was flagging in the polls.

"ACT hopes that Chris Hipkins can move on from Labour's pantomime policies that have made life harder for Kiwis," Seymour said.

Hipkins needed to show Labour was "prepared to deliver on substance instead of snowing New Zealand with spin", he said.

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