Jacinda Ardern was officially replaced as New Zealand’s prime minister on Wednesday, after shocking the country with her abrupt resignation last week. New Zealand’s governor-general swore in new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, 44, during a ceremony in Wellington.
“This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life,” Hipkins said after formally taking office. “I’m energized and excited by the challenges ahead.”
Ardern admitted last week that she no longer had “enough in the tank” after navigating the country through natural disasters, the country’s worst-ever terror attack, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
She made her final public appearance as prime minister earlier on Wednesday, walking out of the Beehive parliament building to a spontaneous round of applause from hundreds of onlookers.
Prince William was among the first to congratulate Ardern, who rose to prominence as a global figurehead of progressive politics during her five-year tenure.
“Thank you Jacinda Ardern for your friendship, leadership and support over the years, not least at the time of my grandmother’s death,” he wrote on his official Twitter account.
Folk singer Yusuf “Cat” Stevens, who played a concert in memory of the 51 people killed during the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, also praised Ardern.
He said on Twitter that Ardern “kept New Zealanders together following the terror attack in Christchurch”.
Ardern was first elected as prime minister in 2017, before riding a wave of “Jacindamania” to secure a second term with a landslide victory in 2020.