Labour leadership: Chris Hipkins remains leader, Carmel Sepuloni elected deputy

The Labour Party caucus has met for the first time since the final election results were revealed on Friday afternoon, confirming the party would have 34 seats in the next Parliament.

At the meeting, Chris Hipkins was endorsed as leader and Carmel Sepuloni was elected the party's deputy leader. Kelvin Davis has stepped aside from the position and won't run for Parliament in 2026.

These live updates have now finished.

2:35pm - You can watch back Chris Hipkins' full press conference above.

1:55pm - Davis said he has other priorities now in life and that this will be his last term in Parliament. He notes that he became a grandfather in the past two weeks. Jackson jumps in to say he "looks like it".

1:50pm - Davis said as he intends not to run in 2026, it doesn't make sense for him to stay on as deputy leader. He said it would be better to bring in new talent.

Jackson said there was a discussion about whether to put up someone from the Māori caucus for the deputy role, but "we are united in our support of Carmel Sepuloni".

1:45pm - Kelvin Davis said that after six years, he felt it was time to hand over the deputy leadership and give someone else a chance. He initially said he plans to stay on to 2026 and then said he plans to evaluate things over the summer. He said he "didn't intend to run in 2026".

"I never said I was going to leave immediately."

Willie Jackson said that voters in the Māori electorates voted strategically, giving their electorate vote to Te Pāti Māori and their party vote to Labour. 

He isn't sure if he will stick around until 2026. He will stay on if there is a referendum on the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi to fight back against it.

Davis said he is also concerned about the prospect of a referendum. He is also interested in seeing how Waitangi events go with National in power.

1:35pm - The press conference has now finished.

1:30pm - Hipkins is being questioned about his previous statement that "Under a Government I lead there will be no wealth or capital gains tax after the election". 

He said everything is back on the table since the party lost the election. 

Hipkins wouldn't rule out raising the superannuation age if re-elected in 2026. He said he wouldn't be deciding on policy for that election at this stage.

1:20pm - Hipkins said it's inevitable that MPs will consider their own future over the next term, but he is leaving that to them to discuss. 

Speaking about ACT's proposal of a referendum on the treaty principles, Hipkins said that would be a massive step back and wouldn't be constructive. He said he hopes National doesn't allow that to happen. Ongoing discussions around race relations and constitutional issues are important if done respectfully, but he doesn't believe a referendum would lead to that.

Sepuloni said she and National's Gerry Brownlee will work together at the Pacific Islands Forum. They are taking a pro-New Zealand stance, rather than a party-specific one.

He said it would be better if New Zealand was represented by the incoming Government at APEC. That will depend on whether coalition talks have wrapped up.

1:15pm - Hipkins said the Labour Party stands for a fairer New Zealand, one where those who work hard are able to get ahead. But he said the Labour Party needs to review its policy platform. 

Sepuloni said Davis wanted to stand down as deputy so there wasn't any negotiation with him.

She said that the vote in Auckland was a problem for Labour so there is work to do there.

Hipkins said after reflecting on Labour's time in Government - the good and the things that could be done differently - and its loss, Labour would then hold the new Government to account.

He plans on being a "very good" Opposition leader.

There were a number of issues contributing to Labour's loss, Hipkins said. That includes how the party was perceived in Auckland and issues with ministers leading up to the election taking time away from discussing Government's actions and policies.

Hipkins said he spoke with Parker on Monday and he claimed he hadn't been doing the numbers as had been rumoured. Hipkins didn't go through the entire caucus to see if he had enough support to remain as leader, he said.

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

1:10pm - Hipkins said the party discussed tax during their meeting, but MPs didn't get into the detail of policies. He said there is a refresh after a loss and everything is back on the table, including around tax. The 2026 tax policy could look quite different to the 2023 tax policy, he said.

"Everything is back on the table," Hipkins said. "We start with a blank page from here."

Hipkins said there will be an opportunity to discuss taxation going forward. Hipkins ruled out introducing a wealth tax or capital gains tax at the election.

He doesn't believe tax defined the election.

Hipkins said he nominated Sepuloni to be the deputy. 

1:05pm - Chris Hipkins says he remains Labour leader and Carmel Sepuloni has been elected deputy leader. Kelvin Davis decided not to remain as deputy leader.

Hipkins said it wasn't the time to refresh the leadership. He said he has only been in the role for nine months. Many of the seeds of the defeat at the election were sown before Hipkins came to power, he said.

As the ballot was secret, Hipkins doesn't know how many votes there were to endorse him and how many didn't. But he got enough to stay on.

He intends to be the leader going into the 2026 election. 

Hipkins said Davis hasn't signalled that he will resign from the party. He doesn't want that frontline role, Hipkins said. 

1pm - We are now waiting to hear from the Labour Party about the results of the leadership vote. You can watch the stream above.

12:45pm - The Labour Party media standup is expected to begin at around 1pm. We will stream that above. If you are on our app, you should click here.

12:30pm - The Labour Party constitution outlines how the leadership vote is run.

The leader - currently Chris Hipkins - needs the support of 60 percent of the votes cast, plus one. With Labour having 34 MPs in its new caucus, that means Hipkins needs 21 votes to remain as the leader.

If he gets fewer than that, the leadership is vacated. MPs then have seven days to endorse a new leader (66.66 percent of the votes are needed) or an election is triggered.

In the event MPs can't get two-thirds support for a new leader, Labour goes to its complicated electoral college, which is comprised of caucus members, party members and affiliates (unions). Caucus votes having a weighting of 40 percent, party members are 40 percent, and then affiliates 20 percent.

Read more on what could happen after that here.

12:15pm - Among the other MPs who spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning was Phil Twyford.

He wouldn't explicitly say that Hipkins would get his endorsement, but he also said he would be surprised if Hipkins wasn't the leader after the vote.   

"I think Chris has got the experience and the skills to lead Labour but this is the kind of stuff we discuss inside the caucus room."  

Twyford said he wouldn't make predictions about whether Hipkins would be leader going into the 2026 election.   

"I support Chris. He is the leader of the Labour Party."   

He said Hipkins had done a "great job" for Labour and there was collective responsibility for the election loss. He didn't expect frustration in the caucus meeting.   

Those fully in support of Hipkins included Ginny Andersen and Adrian Rurawhe. Grant Robertson was "absolutely sure" Hipkins would be the party's leader going into the 2026 election.

You can read more Labour MPs' comments here.

12pm - Kia ora, good afternoon, and welcome to Newshub's live updates for the Labour leadership vote happening on Tuesday.

The new Labour caucus is currently meeting at a complex in Upper Hutt, away from its usual parliamentary meeting space and in Chris Hipkins' electorate.

That's notable given Labour MPs are voting on whether to endorse Hipkins as the party's leader.

MPs arriving at the site earlier on Tuesday were for the most part expressing confidence in Hipkins. Some - including rumoured potential challenger David Parker - kept quiet, wanting to save their thoughts for the secret caucus meeting.

Parker said he wouldn't go for the leadership on Tuesday, but refused to say whether he would endorse Hipkins. He said it was not his intention to go for the leadership later in the term, but saying something isn't your current plan doesn't mean you are ruling it out.

There will be a standup at 1pm, which Newshub will livestream. We should find out the result of the vote then.