In the end, New Zealand’s 41st prime minister was chosen by the Labour Party caucus from a field of one. Chris Hipkins was the only candidate, and the transition following Jacinda Ardern’s surprise resignation was smooth.

It needed to be – any prolonged and divisive process would simply have compounded the problems of a government trailing in the polls and struggling to control the political narrative. With Hipkins now in the top job there is at least the possibility of a reset, with nearly nine months until the election on October 14.

That’s the optimistic version, of course. As Grant Duncan argues in his analysis of the Hipkins ascendency, one alternative is a continuing slow spiral down, culminating in election defeat and another long time in the wilderness looking for the right leader for the times.

The current consensus seems to be that Hipkins can at least make a proper contest of it. He’s experienced, energetic, combative and competent. Perhaps most of all, he doesn’t inspire the intense emotional responses Ardern did – positive or negative – and can take some of that unhelpful heat out of the political kitchen.

Whether that is enough to stem or reverse the slow drift of swing voters from Labour to the opposition National Party remains moot for now – though not for long.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

Chris Hipkins becomes NZ’s new prime minister – there are two ways it can go from here

Grant Duncan, Massey University

An outbreak of ‘Chris-mania’ seems unlikely, but maybe taking personality and heat out of the mix will benefit Labour in election year.

Jacinda Ardern’s resignation: gender and the toll of strong, compassionate leadership

Suze Wilson, Massey University

Despite women now having equal representation within New Zealand’s parliament, the misogynistic abuse directed at Jacinda Ardern shows equal treatment of women in leadership is still a long way off.

When it comes to finding Australia’s future leaders, both the Liberals and Labor have a women problem: new study

Duncan McDonnell, Griffith University; Sofia Ammassari, Griffith University

New research shows fewer women are joining the Liberals and Labor youth wings – and fewer want to stand as future candidates, as well.

Can reading help heal us and process our emotions – or is that just a story we tell ourselves?

Jane Turner Goldsmith, University of Adelaide

The idea of healing benefits and emotional catharsis through reading is intuitively appealing. But does it work that way? Jane Turner Goldsmith finds answers in neuroscience, philosophy and more.

Exploding carp numbers are ‘like a house of horrors’ for our rivers. Is it time to unleash carp herpes?

Ivor Stuart, Charles Sturt University; John Koehn, Charles Sturt University; Katie Doyle, Charles Sturt University; Lee Baumgartner, Charles Sturt University

Carp can make riverbeds look like golf balls – denuded and dimpled, devoid of any habitat. Releasing carp herpes virus is a controversial proposition, so let’s weigh up the risks and benefits.

My teen’s vaping. What should I say? 3 expert tips on how to approach ‘the talk’

Joshua Trigg, Flinders University; Billie Bonevski, Flinders University

It might be tempting to fly off the handle and deliver a lecture on the dangers of vaping. But here’s what might actually work.

If you haven’t joined a union, it’s time you paid to benefit from union deals

Jim Stanford, University of Sydney

Australia’s protection, even celebration, of ‘free riders’ in industrial relations is driving union membership down to US levels.

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