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New Zealand PM Hipkins’ Cabinet to prioritize day-to-day

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he’s selected a team of lawmakers to lead the country that will focus on the everyday concerns of New Zealanders such as the rising cost of living.

Hipkins, who was sworn in to the top job last week after the surprise resignation of Jacinda Ardern, announced his new Cabinet lineup Tuesday, keeping some lawmakers in their previous roles while demoting or promoting others.

Notable among the changes are the addition of a new ministerial role focused on the city of Auckland; the end of a role focused on the coronavirus pandemic; and a promise by Hipkins that New Zealand will take on a more visible presence in the South Pacific, at a time when China is making a geopolitical push into the region.

With a tough general election looming in less than nine months, Hipkins has been emphasizing a back-to-basics approach.

“The government hears loud and clear that many New Zealanders and many families are struggling,” Hipkins said. “You want us focused on what most matters to you, and in this Cabinet are the people to do that. Some have experienced many of those struggles themselves.”

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