Labour leadership: MPs appoint Chris Hipkins leader, Carmel Sepuloni to be deputy Prime Minister

Chris Hipkins will be the next Prime Minister of New Zealand, while Carmel Sepuloni will be deputy Prime Minister and Kelvin Davis will remain deputy Labour leader.

Hipkins won't officially become Prime Minister until Jacinda Ardern tenders her resignation and he is sworn in by the Governor-General on Wednesday.

These live updates are now over.

4:40pm - The Labour Party is auctioning off the cap and sunnies Chris Hipkins was wearing in the now-famous Newshub interview he gave while out for a walk in Napier.

Importantly, the auction is not for charity. Any money received is a political donation.

"Dress them up for Parliament or keep them casual at the Cossie Club - with this hat and these shades, you'll be styling it like a world leader in no time," the Trade Me auction says.

"This is a unique, one of a kind combo of truly historic significance. It'll appeal to fashionistas and political tragics alike. We'll even throw in a certificate of authenticity for the successful bidder."

4:30pm - Luxon supports Hipkins' approach to family. It is up to individual politicians to choose how to navigate being in the public eye, Luxon says.

Asked what he made of Hipkins not knowing the inflation rate, Luxon says the economy is really important. He then listed off a number of economic indicators. 

4:25pm - Luxon congratulates both Hipkins and Sepuloni on their new roles. He says it is a big privilege, but he says there will be "no change" but "more of the same" as Hipkins has been part of a Government that has failed to get things done.

He wants to see a focus on the cost of living crisis, raising incomes for all, restoring law and order and improving education and health.

Luxon says nothing changes for National. Kiwis are facing rapidly rising interest rates and inflation, the risk of rising unemployment, and more economic pain in the coming year, Luxon says.

He text Hipkins on Saturday to say what a privilege his new role is. Hipkins acknowledged that text on Saturday night, Luxon says.

4:15pm - Christopher Luxon will shortly speak to media. You can watch that in the video above or by clicking here

4pm - The Labour Party President has released this statement: 

"Today is an historic day for Labour as we welcome and congratulate our new leader Chris Hipkins," said Labour Party President Jill Day, Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

"Chris is an accomplished Member of Parliament who is well known to Party members as a person who works hard and gets things done. Chris is going to do great things for Labour and for New Zealand.

"New Zealanders will have the chance to know Chris better in the coming weeks and I know they will see what I have seen which is a dedicated, experienced hard worker who takes his job seriously. He can also laugh at himself which is an important attribute of any successful leader.

"Labour is well prepared for the election. With Chris Hipkins as leader, we are well positioned to win.

"I'm deeply proud of our entire Labour caucus for ensuring a smooth transition to a new leader and a new Prime Minister. 

"I'm also enormourly proud to congratulate Carmel Sepuloni into her new role as Deputy Prime Minister. Her elevation is a historic moment for New Zealand's Pacific community, and I wish her every success.

"Our outgoing leader Jacinda Ardern has made a remarkable contribution to our Party and to our country. Labour members are planning fitting ways to acknowledge that contribution and to farewell her" said Jill Day.

3:40pm - Hipkins finds the rhetoric around tough on crime frustrating. He promises to be tough on the causes of crime.

He says people, like recent ram raid offenders, need to be held accountable, but also put on a better pathway. 

"Rhetoric is a lot less valuable than actually focusing on things that will make a difference."

Hipkins cannot say what the latest annual inflation figure was.

3:35pm - The Government has a duty to make the right investments, while keeping an eye on the deficit. It is about striking the right balance, he says. 

New Zealand is in a very sound shape economically and in a better position than many other countries, Hipkins says. He wants to work closely with the New Zealand business community, he says.

Stuart Nash will be the acting Police Minister and Jan Tinetti will be acting Education Minister when Hipkins becomes Prime Minister. Grant Robertson will be Leader of the House, he says. This will last until the Cabinet reshuffle.

3:30pm - Hipkins says he has tried hard to keep his family out of the limelight, including his two children. He wants them to have a typical Kiwi life. He doesn't expect to be putting pictures of them on social media.

He confirms he and wife last year decided to live separately. He says being a minister's partner is "bloody hard". Families come under an enormous amount of pressure.

"We remain incredibly close. She is still my best friend. We have made that decision in the best interest of our family."

3:25pm - No deals were made by him to get support as Labour leader, Hipkins says. No promises were made to put people in certain positions, he says.

He refused to confirm his position on a capital gains tax or raising the superannuation age.

Sepuloni says her elder son was "shocked" and told him how proud he is. Her younger boys are very excited, she says.

3:20pm - Despite a change of leader, this is still a Labour Government, Hipkins says. But he says there will be a reprioritisation of projects.

Hipkins wouldn't detail which projects those will be. But a ruler be run over the Government's entire programme, he says.

He is looking forward to working with Kelvin Davis, who remains the deputy leader of the Labour Party.

Labour has an incredibly talented Maori team, Hipkins says. They remain high-ranking within the party, he says. Hipkins says he has the support of the likes of Willie Jackson.

He says men have a responsibility to call out the abuse women are subjected to. The abuse Jacinda Ardern has been subject to has been abhorrent, the incoming Prime Minister says.

His Cabinet will be a balance of stability and experience with renewal, Hipkins says. Picking 20 people to be in his Cabinet will be a challenge due to the amount of talent in his caucus, he says.

3:15pm - Sepuloni acknowledges Hipkins for taking up the position. She says the entire caucus, including her, believe in him and believe he will be an exceptional Prime Minister.

"I will be there backing Chris up every step of the way and doing whatever he needs me to do."

It's hard to fathom a working-class girl from Taranaki and then moved to West-Auckland can become the deputy Prime Minister, she says. It's also a significant moment for the Pacific community.

It is a huge honour and privilege to take on the role, Sepuloni says.

3:10pm - Hipkins says over the coming week, Cabinet will make decisions on reining in some projects that are not essential right now. 

"New Zealanders understand we cannot do everything and we certainly cannot do everything all at once," he says.

His second task will be to reorganise his Cabinet, Hipkins says. He says his colleagues have the ideas to help New Zealand thrive. Announcements on this will be made next week.

He confirms Carmel Sepuloni will be the deputy Prime Minister. She has overseen a period where a record number of New Zealanders have moved off benefit and into work. She oversaw the wage subsidy scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic and has made sure the welfare system treats people with respect.

On Monday, he will do a media round in Auckland. On Tuesday, he will head to Ratana alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

On Wednesday morning, he will be sworn in as Prime Minister, then hold his first Cabinet meeting and post-Cabinet press conference.

On Thursday, he will meet with businesses, and then with ministers on Friday ahead of the reshuffle.

3:05pm - Chris Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni have arrived at the press conference.

He says New Zealand is the "greatest little country" in the world and acknowledges Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. He says she helped those often overlooked and Kiwis are better off due to the decisions she has made.

But it's also a reminder New Zealand has a way to go in ensuring women in leadership roles get the same respect as men.

He says the focus of his Government will on the economy coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are some healthy economic indicators, like unemployment, but Hipkins acknowledges people are struggling.

There is a pandemic of inflation now, he says.

He wants to focus on the "bread and butter" issues for New Zealanders and create opportunities for current and future generations. This will include strengthening public services, like in health and education, he says.

"Many things are out of kilter," Hipkins says,  noting people should not need a six-figure salary to afford a house.

3pm - We are waiting on the incoming Prime Minister and incoming deputy Prime Minister.

2:50pm - We have placed the livestream above. The press conference will start at 3pm.

2:30pm - Labour MP Shanan Halbert has confirmed Kelvin Davis will remain Labour's deputy leader. This means Hipkins will be Prime Minister, Sepuloni will be deputy Prime Minister, and Davis will be Labour's deputy leader.

That's similar to the current set-up with Grant Robertson as deputy Prime Minister.

2:20pm - Labour MP Jenny Salesa has confirmed Sepuloni will take the deputy Prime Minister position.

2:10pm - The pair will be holding a press conference at 3pm. Newshub will stream that online and on Three.

Carmel Sepuloni and Chris Hipkins.
Carmel Sepuloni and Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub.

2pm - Chris Hipkins and Carmel Sepuloni have left the caucus room together.

Newshub put "Chris and Carmel" to the pair. Hipkins said it sounds "pretty good".

Sepuloni said she is "feeling very humbled".

1:55pm - It appears Carmel Sepuloni has been elected deputy.

Terisa Ngobi told Newshub: "Jacinda gave us a dawn raid apology and Chris gave us our first Pacific deputy".

Newshub put "Chris and Carmel" to David Clark, who said: "What a magic team. Bloody lucky".

"Chris and Carmel" was also put to Helen White, who called it "very exciting".

1:50pm - The caucus meeting has ended and politicians are coming out of the room.

1:35pm - A long applause can be heard from the caucus room.

1:25pm - Newshub can hear singing coming from the caucus room following a big cheer.

1:20pm - The Whips, Duncan Webb and Barbara Edmonds, have walked back into the room with a bunch of flowers. There was another round of applause.

1:15pm - The Labour Whips have left the party caucus room with a ballot box.

1:05pm - Newshub can hear clapping and laughter coming from the caucus room.

1:02pm - Here they are. The Labour Party caucus erupted into applause and cheers when they entered the room.

"Sorry everyone, we have got a bit of business to do," Jacinda Ardern said when shuffling media out of the caucus room.

Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins.
Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub.
Labour leadership: MPs appoint Chris Hipkins leader, Carmel Sepuloni to be deputy Prime Minister
Photo credit: Newshub.

1pm - We are now waiting on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

12:50pm - Asked if he wanted to rethink his words "The Queen is dead, long live the King", O'Connor said no as it was "very metaphorical" and "sums up the situation".

He said life will go on without Ardern.

Poto Williams said Labour was "really lucky" to have a depth of talent in choosing a new deputy. She said if it is Carmel Sepuloni, she would "really happy".

12:45pm - Labour MPs are now preparing for the 1pm caucus meeting where they will endorse Chris Hipkins to be leader - and therefore become New Zealand's next Prime Minister.

The meeting will begin with Hipkins and Jacinda Ardern entering the room together, before it is closed off to media.

It appears there will be a discussion about the deputy leadership role. That is currently held by Kelvin Davis, but momentum is behind Carmel Sepuloni to take it. Davis earlier wouldn't say whether he wanted to keep hold of the position.

12:35pm - Michael Wood, who was considered a potential contender to Chris Hipkins but decided not to run, told Newshub he wouldn't comment on what was discussed internally, other than to say he was delighted to have someone of the calibre of Hipkins as the new leader.

"There were internal conversations that were had. I am not going to go into the details of those," he said.

Wood wouldn't say if he had any support to become leader before deciding not to nominate.

He has no intention of running for the leadership if Labour fails at the 2023 election.

Wood said he didn't try to do a deal and he had no conversations about roles.

12:30pm - Stuart Nash told Newshub he wasn't sure if a new deputy would be chosen on Sunday.

He said the sole nomination of Hipkins shows "how unified we are as a Cabinet, as a caucus, to take on the election and form another government post-election".

There wasn't a question of a doubt Chris Hipkins could beat Christopher Luxon, Nash said.

12:25pm - Labour's Anna Lorck says the deputy leader position is on the agenda for Sunday afternoon's caucus meeting. Her colleague Jenny Salesa said we will learn who the deputy Prime Minister is going to be.

12:15pm - Coming back to Greg O'Connor, who spoke with Newshub earlier.

He was asked what Hipkins will do that Ardern didn't have the energy for.

"That is what we are going to see. The world changed to a large extent last Thursday morning. it is a credit to this organisation that we absorbed it, move on, and I suppose some people, it might be a little bit colloquial, would say, the Queen is dead, long live the King."

Greg O'Connor.
Greg O'Connor. Photo credit: Newshub.
Greg O'Connor.
Greg O'Connor. Photo credit: Newshub.

12:10pm - Carmel Sepuloni, considered the likely frontrunner for the deputy position, was tight-lipped on Sunday morning on whether she will emerge from the caucus room as second-in-command.

"We have got a caucus meeting and there are some decisions to be made and I certainly wouldn't want to preempt any of those decisions."

She wouldn't say whether or not she has been lobbying for the role.

Sepuloni repeatedly came back to there needing to be a caucus meeting and that she wouldn't betray the trust of her colleagues.

Sepuloni arriving on Sunday.
Sepuloni arriving on Sunday. Photo credit: Newshub.

12pm - Shanan Halbert said, "it is important we have Māori representation in our leadership".

He said Davis has served Labour very well to date, but decisions around the deputy leader position "are up for each individual".

"He is certainly a strong leader within our caucus," Halbert told reporters. 

11:55am - Ibrahim Omer said Hipkins was "the right person for the right job at the right time."

He said, "anyone could make a good deputy in our caucus".

Labour's sole nomination of Hipkins shows the party is "all behind Chris for good reason".

"Obviously, his name was floating around. We are just very pleased... it is genuine unity. There is nothing superficial about this."

11:50am - Asked how she felt about Carmel Sepuloni as deputy, Labour's Sarah Pallett said she was "not aware that that conversation has been confirmed".

"I don't know who the next deputy will be, but Carmel would have my full support. She is awesome. I worked with her really closely on ACC legislation for birthing injuries. She is awesome."

Sarah Pallett.
Sarah Pallett. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:45am - Jo Luxton, the Labour MP for Rangitata, told media that it's been a "bumpy" few days since Ardern's resignation. 

"A few ups and downs, a few surprises, but ultimately I think with us choosing Chris Hipkins as our next leader and Prime Minister we have shown we are a unified caucus who is interested in just getting on the job of looking after New Zealanders."

She said the deputy leader role was up to the new leader.

Asked if she would like to see a member of the Māori caucus in one of the leadership positions, she said: "I think there are so many different talented and diverse people within our caucus as a whole and ultimately it will be up to the Prime Minister to decide."

Luxton described Hipkins as "astute", "very, very clever" and with a different style to Ardern.

Meanwhile, Kieran McAnulty has said National's Christopher Luxon is in for a "ginger crunch", referring to his soon-to-be new boss' ginger hair.

11:35am - Kelvin Davis, the current deputy leader, wouldn't say whether he will remain in the post.

"I will just do whatever the leader says... it will be up to whatever the leader says," he told media on Sunday morning. 

He said Hipkins is the right person to lead the party.

"Chris Hipkins, we have got a fantastic leader. I think he was the natural step up."

11:30am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live updates of the Labour leadership caucus meeting.

The meeting will get underway at 1pm, but between now and then Labour MPs will be arriving at Parliament. We will bring you some of their comments as they arrive, including their thoughts on the deputy leader position.

Already, we've heard from a number of backbencher MPs, including Greg O'Connor who noted: "The Queen is dead, long live the King."