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Hipkins and Sepuloni confirmed as PM and deputy

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of The Spinoff’s live updates as we mark the confirmation of New Zealand’s next prime minister: Chris Hipkins.

Stewart Sowman-Lund is on deck from Auckland, with Toby Manhire on the ground in Wellington. Get in touch at


Hipkins and Sepuloni confirmed as PM and deputy

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of The Spinoff’s live updates as we mark the confirmation of New Zealand’s next prime minister: Chris Hipkins.

Stewart Sowman-Lund is on deck from Auckland, with Toby Manhire on the ground in Wellington. Get in touch at

Jan 22 2023

Chris Hipkins’ ‘Hutt-issue headgear’ and shades go up for auction


The Labour Party has leapt on board the meme-wagon by offering up for auction the cap and sunglasses worn by Chris Hipkins in the interview with Newshub’s Amelia Wade on the streets of Napier on Friday morning. It quickly went viral, mostly because of an ensemble that, if nothing else, confirmed his credentials as a “genuine Hutt boy”: hoodie, cap and wraparound shades.

The TradeMe listing reads: “Black and wraparound, this Hutt-issue headgear gives you the cred to hustle a great price on new mags, audition for Westside season 7, or become prime minister. Dress them up for parliament or keep them casual at the Cossie Club – with this hat and these shades, you’ll be styling it like a world leader in no time. This is a unique, one of a kind combo of truly historic significance. It’ll appeal to fashionistas and political tragics alike. We’ll even throw in a certificate of authenticity for the successful bidder.” At the time of writing, the bidding was at $320.

Labour’s move to take advantage of the moment is as smart as it is necessary: last year the National Party raised a staggering war chest of $2.3 million from wealthy New Zealanders, thanks in large parts to the efforts from one of their own former deputy prime ministers from a proudly suburban hinterland, Paula Bennett.

Te Pāti Māori: Tangata whenua ‘overlooked’ by Labour Party again

Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi (Getty Images)

Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer have expressed disappointment that tangata whenua were “overlooked” in the deciding and naming of the new prime minister and deputy prime minister. At 3pm, Chris Hipkins said that he was unanimously supported by Labour’s caucus and confirmed Carmel Sepuloni as the next deputy prime minister.

“It’s a sad day today for Māori,” said Waititi in a statement. “The Labour Party passed on a tangata whenua prime minister and a tangata whenua deputy prime minister. They are telling Māori that, despite having the largest Māori caucus ever in Government, we still are not good enough.”

“This is another example of why Labour will never truly represent our people. It has been nearly 100 years of the Labour relationship with Māori, and they’ve still never elected a Māori Leader,” said Ngarewa-Packer.

Minister for justice Kiritapu Allan was speculated to be in contention for both the prime minister role and then the deputy position. But on Satuday, Allan ruled out a bid for the deputy role. Sepuloni will be the first Pasifika person to hold the position of deputy prime minister.

When asked if he was concerned by the lack of Māori representation in the duo, Hipkins referenced his “extremely talented Māori team” and noted that Māori MPs within Labour would “continue to be represented in the senior lineup of the party”.

Incoming PM Chris Hipkins: ‘Our focus will be on the bread and butter issues’


Incoming prime minister Chris Hipkins says his new role is the biggest privilege, and responsibility, of his life.

Chris Hipkins has today been confirmed as New Zealand’s 41st prime minister, pending the official resignation of Jacinda Ardern in the coming days.

Speaking to media, flanked by his new deputy Carmel Sepuloni, Hipkins said he had been humbled by the support of his colleagues and was excited by the focus and commitment they had shown to ensuring a speedy transition.

“We will continue to provide the strong, stable and focused leadership that New Zealanders expect from us,” said Hipkins.

Hipkins called outgoing prime minister Jacinda Ardern a “very good friend” and “one of New Zealand’s greatest prime ministers.”

He added: “She gave voice to those often overlooked in times of challenge and purposely went about doing politics differently. Jacinda’s leadership has been an inspiration to women and girls everywhere. On behalf of all New Zealanders, thank you Jacinda.”

It was a challenging time for New Zealand, and to be a new prime minister, said Hipkins, citing the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis. “That’s where my government’s focus will be,” he said. “Our focus will be on the right now and the bread and butter issues that people care about.”

Hipkins acknowledged that many families in New Zealand were finding things tough at the moment. “The world is facing a new challenge: a pandemic of inflation,” he said. “I know that many people in New Zealand, many families are struggling at the moment.” The economy would be “right at the heart” of the government’s focus in 2023.

Hipkins signalled that some of Labour’s policies would be adjusted ahead of the election. “We’ll be making decision on refocusing on some of the most pressing priorities,” he said. He would be meeting with ministers in Auckland tomorrow to discuss some of these priority adjustments. “New Zealanders understand we cannot do everything and we certainly cannot do everything all at once.” It’s been widely speculated that the planned RNZ-TVNZ merger could be one such policy on the chopping block.

A cabinet reshuffle has also been scheduled for the week after next, though Hipkins would not speculate on any new portfolios. He did, however, confirm he would resign his current roles upon being sworn in as prime minister. Acting ministers will take on his existing roles.

Hipkins will be formally sworn in as prime minister on Wednesday ahead of chairing his first cabinet meeting. Before that, he will be in Auckland and also attend the annual Rātana events on Tuesday alongside Ardern, in what will be her final event as prime minister.

On the appointment of Carmel Sepuloni as deputy, Hipkins said he always knew that he wanted her to take on the role. The pair said that as a “boy from the Hutt” and a Westie, they were well-suited to one another.

Hipkins refused to answer questions on possible policy commitments such as whether the superannuation age would be moved up to 67 or if a capital gains tax would be back on the table. “I’m not playing the rule in or out game.”

Taking time to speak about family, Hipkins said he would be keeping his young children out the limelight and asked New Zealanders to respect that. He acknowledged the scrutiny his predecessor had faced and said he wished to keep his family life out of the media, confirming that he and his partner had chosen to live separately about a year ago.

Earlier, Hipkins commented on the oft-vitriolic treatment of Ardern. “It’s a reminder we have a way to go in ensuring women in leadership receive the same respect as their male counterparts,” he said.

Live: Hipkins and Sepuloni to speak for the first time as leaders


Chris Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni are set to give their first press conference since being confirmed as incoming prime minister and deputy.

The pair were voted into their new positions by Labour’s caucus at a closed doors meeting earlier this afternoon. Hipkins was the only nominee for the position of Labour leader, and therefore prime minister.

Thanks to RNZ, here is a livestream of the conference. We’ll have rolling coverage from 3pm.

Kelvin Davis safe as Labour deputy

Māori-Crown relations minister Kelvin Davis (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

While there will be a new deputy prime minister, Labour’s current party deputy – Kelvin Davis – will remain in the role.

In a slightly unusual turn, Labour opted to differentiate the roles of deputy prime minister and deputy party leader after the 2020 election.

Davis’s role was confirmed by Labour MP Shanan Halbert in a tweet.

Confirmed: Carmel Sepuloni to become deputy prime minister

Carmel Sepuloni speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on April 28, 2020 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Grant Robertson will not stay on as deputy prime minister under new leader Chris Hipkins.

The incoming prime minister will address media at 3pm, alongside his new deputy Carmel Sepuloni.

The minister for social development has been confirmed to be taking up the number two slot after a closed doors caucus meeting at parliament. Sepuloni and Hipkins were pictured hugging at the conclusion of the hour-long meeting.

Briefly speaking to media on their way out of the meeting, Hipkins and Sepuloni said they were “humbled” to be confirmed as Labour’s new leadership duo.

In a tweet, Sepuloni’s caucus colleague Jenny Salesa called the appointment “historic”.

“Congratulations, well done and really proud of our first Pacific deputy PM, my friend & tongan sister Hon Carmel Sepuloni,” she wrote. “You’ve got this Carmel.”

What’s still unknown is whether Sepuloni will also become deputy Labour leader, a role currently held by Kelvin Davis. Meanwhile, Hipkins has signalled he wants Robertson to remain as finance minister.

Today’s agenda: Hipkins to become PM, Sepuloni tipped for deputy


Prime minister-to-be Chris Hipkins has arrived at parliament, joined by outgoing leader Jacinda Ardern. The pair were cheered on by their Labour caucus colleagues as they entered a closed doors meeting at parliament.

Here are the all important timings for today. We’ll have coverage from on the ground in Wellington too.

  • Now: Labour MPs will meet to formally vote on Hipkins becoming Labour leader.
  • 3pm: Hipkins will front his first press conference since being officially designated Labour leader and, therefore, prime minister. It’s at this address that we’ll likely learn who the deputy prime minister will be, with reports Carmel Sepuloni will be replacing Grant Robertson.

Cheers and applause have reportedly been heard from within Labour’s caucus room, though media are not allowed to attend. We’ll likely not hear anymore definitive news until that first press conference in 90 minutes.

Ardern and Hipkins arrive at parliament (Photo: RNZ)