New Zealand: The race to replace Jacinda Ardern is on

New Zealand: The race to replace Jacinda Ardern is on

The resignation of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, which surprised her country, paves the way for the appointment of a successor of Maori descent, as a few candidates demonstrated …

The resignation of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, which took her country by surprise, is paving the way for the appointment of a successor of Maori descent, with few candidates expressing interest in the top job.

Three days after Jacinda Ardern resigned, the Labor caucus on Sunday will try to name her successor. To become prime minister, he would have to get two-thirds of the vote.

If none of the candidates succeeds, a protracted battle will begin, involving members of the Labor Party and its affiliated unions.

Chris Hipkins, 44, is the frontrunner in the polls after Jacinda Ardern’s assistant Grant Robertson dropped out of the race. Mr Hipkins, whose candidacy is considered serious, is very exposed in the media, as he has been responsible for managing the Covid-19 virus crisis as well as the education and police portfolios.

Political columnist Josie Pagani described him as “sensitive, sympathetic, tough and competent”.

Other candidates in the running include Justice Minister Kerry Allan, one of the Labor MPs’ leaders of Maori descent, and Immigration Minister Michael Wood.

At the age of 42, Mr. Wood is responsible for raising New Zealand’s minimum wage, and enjoys huge support in the country’s trade union movement.

At the moment, none of the three have formalized their candidacy.

Maori prime minister?

Never before has New Zealand been led by a Prime Minister of Maori descent. But former business attorney Kerry Allan may breach the glass ceiling on Sunday.

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Once in Parliament in 2017, Kerry Allan was quickly introduced as a future leader, even the first head of government of Maori descent in the country’s history.

She was forced off the bike in April 2021 after doctors diagnosed her with stage 3 cervical cancer, but returned to work after only three months.

The 15 Maori members of the Labor Party caucus on Sunday hope to influence the poll. Labor Minister Kelvin Davis said: “Obviously we would like to see a Maori Prime Minister one day”.

Willie Jackson, former co-chair of the Labor caucus, said it was very important for Māori MPs to have a voice. “We are talking about the prime minister of our nation, so we want to play a role,” he said.

The Maori party, Te Pati Maori, said it was time for New Zealand to be led by a Prime Minister of Maori descent. “Any further outcome would be the decline of Aotearoa (New Zealand’s official name in Maori, editor’s note) after Jacinda Ardern,” party co-leaders Debbie Ngariwa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi warned in a statement.

The first Maori are said to have arrived in New Zealand from Polynesia around 700 years ago. About 17% of New Zealand’s five million people now identify as Maori, according to the country’s latest census.

Jacinda Ardern, 42, resigned on Thursday, claiming she “no longer had enough energy” to continue ruling after five and a half years in power and nine months before legislative elections.

During her tenure, she faced the Covid-19 pandemic, a deadly volcanic eruption and the country’s worst ever attack, the killing of 51 Muslim worshipers at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist in 2019.

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cf / sft / qan / rr / lpa / jnd

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