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PoliticsNovember 27, 2023

Christopher Luxon’s very special first day


Inside the swearing-in ceremony where Christopher Luxon officially became the prime minister of New Zealand.

Forty-four days after the New Zealand public voted, Christopher Luxon can finally call himself prime minister. Chris Hipkins resigned his post this morning while Luxon and his new government took a road trip across Wellington to Government House for the formal swearing-in ceremony. 

The ballroom at Government House is very fancy. There are two grand crystal chandeliers hanging over the centre of the room, as well as a few miniature ones around the wall. There’s a massive oil painting of a young Queen Elizabeth II, and an even massiver one of King George V in some brilliantly excessive regalia. 

At the very front of the room, slightly ruining the grandiose vibes of his predecessors, is a photo of King Charles. He’s opted for a stripped-back look, no crowns or robes, just a blue suit and a slightly confused expression on his face, like a wedding uncle who’s too drunk to recall your name.

The ceremony began with a karanga. Luxon and Winston Peters entered the room first, side-by-side, with David Seymour and Nicola Willis in lockstep behind them, leading the rest of the new ministers. 

In two lines, they split off to take their seats at a long table in front of drunk uncle Charles. The ministers’ families watched from a few metres away. Amanda Luxon sat right behind Chris, close enough to see his penmanship. She looked very proud. She still has arms. 

A polite-looking man in a tuxedo played the national anthem on a piano at a surprisingly fast pace. The crowd, predictably, did a better job of singing the English verse. 

The main ceremony was a long and pretty dull affair. One by one, each new minister took two pledges: first, an oath of allegiance to the king, and second, the Executive Councillor’s oath – which is basically a promise to take the job seriously and not spill any secrets. 

Luxon, like most ministers, swore his oath while holding a bible. David Seymour was one of a few who opted not to. He also omitted the phrase “so help me God”. Winston Peters paused dramatically in his oath to ensure everyone noticed him pronounce “heirs” with the proper English pronunciation, which he seemed very proud of. 

Shane Jone and Tama Potaka each gave their oaths in te reo māori. Melissa Lee gave hers in both English and Korean. Andrew Hoggard spoke in English but with such an aggressive rural twang it was hard to know for sure.

After the oaths were read and the ministers had signed their official warrants, Governor-general Cindy Kiro gave a short speech congratulating Luxon, and invited him to address the room. 

With the election campaign behind him, Luxon was finally free to throw away his intensely scripted slogans and let his true wild, free-flowing personality loose. No mention of the “strong and stable” cliche here. Instead, he praised his ministers as a “strong, productive, unified team that will deliver for all New Zealanders”. 

Christopher Luxon speaks to media after the swearing-in ceremony

With that, Luxon stepped on the dias next to Kiro, beaming with pride. Each minster got the chance for a photo with the two, before going off into another room to eat fancy snacks.

As he was leaving the event, Luxon’s crown limo pulled up alongside the media bus at the Basin Reserve. He attempted to roll down the window, but apparently his driver wouldn’t let him do that. He resorted to a big thumbs up. The small blue New Zealand flag on the car flapped eagerly in the wind, almost as excited as the very proud man in the back. 

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