Jacinda Ardern’s shock resignation as NZ PM

WELLINGTON, 19 Jan 2023:

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern today said she will resign from the top job – in a shock announcement that also included setting the date for the country’s next general election.

“I am leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility – the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead, and also, when you are not,” Ardern, 42, said in an address at her Labour Party’s annual caucus meeting.

“I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple.”

Her term as prime minister will conclude no later than Feb 7, and she will leave parliament in April.

In 2017, she became the world’s youngest head of state when she was elected to the top job at the age of 37, and the following year, she gave birth to daughter Neve – making her just the second elected head of government in the world to give birth while holding office.

In 2020, she was re-elected in a historic landslide victory that enabled the Labour Party to govern alone.

During her tenure, she steered New Zealand through unprecedented challenges such as the Christchurch terror attack, the Covid19 pandemic and the eruption of White Island/Whakaari volcano.

“I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” Ardern said, adding she had no future plans beyond seeing 4-year-old Neve start school and finally marrying her partner Clarke Gayford. Their wedding was called off last year due to Covid19 restrictions.

“All I know is that whatever I do, I will try and find ways to keep working for New Zealand and that I am looking forward to spending time with my family again – arguably, they are the ones that have sacrificed the most out of all of us.”

On Sunday, the Labour Party will vote for a new prime minister, but deputy prime minister Grant Robertson – who would have been mostly likely front runner – has said he will not vie for the position.

Ardern also announced that New Zealand’s next general election will be held on Oct 14.

Her stepping down comes as recent polls put centre-left Labour slightly behind the centre-right opposition National Party.

But, Ardern said: “I am not leaving because I believe we cannot win the next election, but because I believe we can and will.”

National leader Chris Luxon thanked Ardern, saying the prime minister job is “difficult and demanding” and that she “had certainly given it her all”.

“I think all of us felt incredibly proud of her leadership and her response to the Christchurch terror attack and she’s always been a good ambassador for New Zealand on the global stage.”

Meanwhile, across the Tasman, Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese said Arden has “shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength”.

“She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities. Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many and a great friend to me.”