Chris Hipkins is set to become New Zealand's prime minister.
- Known as "Chippy", the former COVID minister is a close ally of Jacinda Ardern. Hipkins, 44, expected to succeed Ardern as Labour leader on Sunday after no other candidates emerged, faces a stern test upon taking power, with Labour trailing the opposition in opinion polls and the country expected to fall into recession next quarter before a general election on October 14.
- First elected to parliament in 2008, Hipkins became a household name fronting the government's response to the pandemic. He was appointed health minister in July 2020 before becoming the COVID response minister at the end of the year.
- Under Ardern's "go hard, go early" approach to COVID, the island nation of 5 million was among the first to close borders.
- Hipkins, who describes himself as an "outdoor enthusiast" keen on mountain biking, hiking and swimming, studied politics and criminology at Victoria University and then worked in the industry training sector.
- Before becoming an MP, he worked as a senior adviser to two education ministers and former prime minister Helen Clark. In 2021, he accused Australia of "exporting its garbage" to New Zealand -- a reference to Canberra's controversial policy of deporting criminals back to their country of birth.