New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has handed over leadership of the Labor Party to Mrs At a passionate party meeting in Wellington.
The pair – longtime friends and political allies – walked hand in hand through the halls of Parliament House on Sunday in a show of unity.
Mr. Hipkins was the only candidate from the Labor caucus to succeed Ardern as its leader that she was stepping down as prime minister.
Outgoing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and incoming leader Chris Hepkins at Parliament House in Wellington on Sunday, January 22. Source: aap / Ben McKay
Entering the meeting, the pair embraced and were met with raucous applause.
Hipkins, the 44-year-old education secretary, will address the media at 3pm and is expected to be sworn in as prime minister early next week.
Labor will be led by a new duo, with Carmel Cipollone winning the party room vote to become Deputy Prime Minister to Mr Hipkins.
Cipollone did not confirm her election after the meeting but told reporters she was “very humbled”.
Labor MP Jenny Salsa took the cat out of the bag shortly after the meeting, and congratulated her colleague on Twitter.
“Well done and really proud of my Pacific Deputy Prime Minister, my friend and Sister of Tonga the Hon Carmel Cipollone,” she wrote.
“Today is a historic day for Samoa, Tonga and our Pacific people in Aotearoa New Zealand. You have this Carmel…” Ofa lahi & Alofa tele atu Sis “
Ms. Cipollone, an MP raised in Taranaki and based in Auckland, is a former teacher with Samoan and Tongan heritage through her mother.
Kelvin Davis was retained as Deputy Leader of the Labor Party.
The new leadership team will take Labor to elections on October 14.