Chris Hipkins' Upper Hutt constituents react to news he's to become next Prime Minister


In his maiden speech, Chris Hipkins described himself as a "genuine Hutt boy", how have his constituents reacted to the news he is the next Prime Minister?

Speaking for the first time in Parliament in 2008, Hipkins said: "The Hutt Valley is home to a wide range of cultures, ethnicities and families with a wide variety of economic means...there is no place I would rather call home and no place that I am prouder to represent in this Parliament than the Hutt Valley."

Most people spoken to by RNZ in Upper Hutt an hour after the announcement weren't aware a new Labour leader and Prime Minister had been announced, but expressed their delight at having a local get the job.

Sue Wild was "delighted and proud" as an Upper Hutt local.

"An Upper Hutt boy gets to be prime minister, it's great for our town.

"I think he's proved his worth already, he's astute, he speaks well and he's human because he makes the odd glitch - which is fun."

Marilyn Gentle said the announcement made her day and Hipkins did a lot for the city.

"He just looks after us so well, he's a family man and I'm really happy that he is our PM."

"Really awesome. Cool guy, knows what he's doing, hope he'll make a huge difference - go Chris," said her daughter, Kylie.

Keith McKenzie said Hipkins was a "fresh face" who was quite logical.

"I think it could be an improvement but I mean who's to say, they've done nothing wrong, I suppose when the end comes, the end comes, doesn't it."

An Upper Hutt teacher who didn't want to be named, said Hipkins was personable and a good leader.

They respected the work he did as education minister.

"He spearheaded the project with bringing the polytechs and vocational sectors together and then I think during Covid he also helped with the Covid response really well.

"He's a local, he's really immersed in the community, he has a vested interest in the community - he's got young kids himself."

Dondi Capampang also thought Hipkins did a "pretty good job" with the Covid response.

"I think he'll do good as the prime minister."

Capampang hoped Hipkins could prove himself and make it past October.

Glen Smith thought Hipkins was "young, fresh" and seemed "pretty straight up".

"It's got to be good for Upper Hutt hopefully," he laughed.

"How long he'll be there for, I don't know, the election's in nine months so he's got a lot to do to convince everybody."

Over in the Naenae, the southernmost part of the Remutaka electorate, some people didn't know who Chris Hipkins was, while others said they knew the name but not much more. Naenae was added to the electorate during a 2014 boundary change.

"I'm not to fussed with Chris Hipkins," one woman said. "I'm a little bit worried about elections in general this year."

She said she had a feeling the National Party would win the election. "I'm not going to say that's a good thing."

Morehu Watana-Kereama said Ardern protected all of New Zealand when she put the country into its first Covid-19 lockdown but National would do the opposite if elected.

Watana-Kereama was "very very doubtful" about Hipkins.

"He may have ideas that are not going to be suitable for the people of New Zealand at all and...there's other issues he may bring up that he's not saying about now."

Watana-Kereama wasn't confident of a win under Hipkins but was interested to see if there would be an improvement under his leadership.

"National looks after the ones with money, not the ones who are broke, or you know, can't afford things."

A man who didn't want to be named thought Hipkins was a wise decision for Labour and would be a good prime minister.

"I think he can handle what's the pressure for New Zealand citizens."

He prays Hipkins will be good for Pacific people.

Another man said he wasn't really sure what Hipkins stood for. "What are his main issues?"

He thought National was more business orientated and he wanted the government to focus on prosperity.

Another thought Hipkins was competent as a politician and seemed fairly humble, but astute.

He thought it was pretty cool Hipkins was a local but it probably wouldn't make a difference for the community.