Incoming NZ Prime Minister Chris Hipkins singles out 'global inflation pandemic' as priority

Incoming New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has signalled tackling the "inflation pandemic" will be a top priority for his cabinet's slimmed-down work programme.

Hipkins and new Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni will take the reins on Wednesday, following Jacinda Ardern's sudden announcement last week she was quitting after a challenging five years in the top role.

RNZ reports it was perhaps the cleanest transfer of power in the Labour Party's recent history, and a far cry from the post-Helen Clark, pre-Ardern years of infighting and headline-grabbing leadership tussles.

"Jacinda Ardern and I are both absolutely committed to providing strong and stable leadership to New Zealand," Hipkins told Morning Report on Monday.

"I think that's what they've seen from the Labour government over the past five-and-a-half years, and that's what they're going to continue to see."

While in 2020 Ardern led the party to the most comprehensive victory of any in the MMP era and still leads polls for the most-preferred prime minister, those same polls suggest Labour's on track to lose the election later this year.

With polls also showing the cost of living and inflation are far more important to voters than the likes of Three Waters reform and merging state-owned media entities, Hipkins said it is time to "run the ruler" over the government's work programme.

"We need to focus in on some of those bread-and-butter issues that New Zealanders are certainly focused on at the moment, including issues like the cost of living, the effects of the ongoing global inflation pandemic that we're experiencing at the moment.

"We just have to make sure that we're putting our resources into the things that are going to make the biggest difference and that are the most important."