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Prime Minister Chris Hipkins wearing a suit and kakāhu as he departs for the Coronation. Photo: RNZ / Katie Scotcher
Little more than 100 days since becoming Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins is on his way to his first coronation.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister of 103 days is among 2000 invited guests to the crowning of King Charles, which takes place at Westminster Abbey in central London from 10pm tonight (NZT).
Follow our live coverage of the coronation here.
Hipkins, who led a delegation to the coronation that includes Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, Opposition leader Christopher Luxon, Māori King Tuheitia and former All Black captain Richie McCaw, spoke to media as he left his hotel saying he’d enjoyed seeing so many Kiwis in the city for what was going to be a “very, very special day”.
“There’s a lot of Kiwis who will be looking upon this… as such an extraordinary event, something they wouldn’t have seen before.”
The 44-year-old left his sometimes-casual look of hoodie, cap and wraparound sunnies back in the Hutt and was instead dressed in a suit, with a Māori kākahu (cloak) on top.
The kākahu was created by Gerry Williamson of Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club and gifted to the New Zealand Embassy in Paris for special occasions, Hipkins said.
“So hence, I’m having the opportunity to wear it today.”
Following the coronation he would be meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, before flying out of London in time to be back in New Zealand for Cabinet on Monday.
Meanwhile Luxon was shown arriving at Westminster Abbey in a morning suit and a purple tie.
The grand royal occasion had presented some problems for the dad-of-two who even his predecessor Jacinda Ardern mocked for being fashion-challenged.
Add to that his self-described “tight” attitude towards spending money.
Male guests going to the coronation were given the option of a morning suit (waistcoats and tails) or a lounge suit (normal business suit).
The Prime Minister said he planned to wear a lounge suit – but discreet inquiries were also made of Commonwealth cuzzies Australia and Canada to check Hipkins wouldn’t stand out for all the wrong reasons – with Anthony Albanese and Justin Trudeau both reporting they also planned to wear a business suit.
Hipkins did splash out on new shoes and a new suit for the occasion, albeit an off-the-rack number from Kiwi-owned Barkers.
It had already been a busy few of days in Blighty for the Prime Minister, who met UK-based Kiwi troops training Ukrainian civilians for combat, and also first-in-line William, the Prince of Wales, and King Charles – who talked with Hipkins about Cyclone Gabrielle recovery and climate change, and dispatched him from Buckingham Palace with a tray of sausage rolls.
The Prime Minister’s beloved snack was back in the limelight last night, when Hipkins shared the pastry-favourite with his British counterpart during a meeting at 10 Downing St.
In their first face-to-face meeting, Hipkins and Rishi Sunak talked about the new free trade agreement between the two countries, which comes into effect at the end of the month, Indo-Pacific region issues and the war in Ukraine, RNZ reported.
The relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom was the “best it’s been in a long time”, Hipkins said.
Meanwhile, Luxon met with Kiwi expats on Friday at the Two Chairmen pub in Westminster after putting a public invitation on the Kiwis in London Facebook group.
“A lot of Kiwis living overseas are interested in what is happening at home. Many of them were unable to come home during Covid and they’re worried about the economy here,” he said.
“They’re interested in what a National government will do and our priorities if National is elected in October.”