New premier is sworn in by governor-general during a ceremony in capital Wellington after Jacinda Ardern's abrupt departure from the role last week.

"I'm energised and excited by the challenges ahead," says Hipkins. (AFP)

Chris Hipkins has been sworn in as New Zealand's 41st prime minister, following the unexpected resignation last week of Jacinda Ardern.

Hipkins, 44, has promised on Wednesday a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the "pandemic of inflation."

"This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life," Hipkins said after formally taking office. 

"I'm energised and excited by the challenges ahead."

He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his Labour Party is trailing its conservative opposition.

New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro officiated the swearing-in ceremony after earlier accepting Ardern's resignation.

READ MORE: New Zealand lawmakers confirm Hipkins as Ardern's replacement

Architect of Covid response

Hipkins served as education and police minister under Ardern.

He rose to public prominence during the Covid-19 pandemic, when he took on a kind of crisis management role, but he and other liberals have long been in the shadow of Ardern, who became a global icon of the left and exemplified a new style of leadership.

The father-of-two is nicknamed "Chippy" and describes himself as a "regular, ordinary Kiwi" from a working-class background who loves sausage rolls and cycling to work.

Ardern made her last public appearance as prime minister earlier on Wednesday, walking out of parliament as hundreds of onlookers broke into a spontaneous round of applause. 

Ardern said the thing she would miss most was the people because they had been the "joy of the job."

New Zealand's head-of-state is Britain’s King Charles III, and Kiro is his representative in New Zealand, although these days the nation's relationship with the monarchy is largely symbolic.

READ MORE: Chris Hipkins set to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand PM

Source: TRTWorld and agencies