In her final speech to New Zealand’s parliament on Wednesday, Jacinda Ardern described in emotional terms how she has dealt with the pandemic and a mass shooting during her tumultuous five-year tenure as prime minister.
He also told humorous anecdotes, such as how the European leader admired Ms Ardern’s chief of staff’s stunning hair so much that he styled it like a hairdresser, which she jokingly helped secure a free trade deal, and how his mother once sent one. its an uplifting, if somewhat overwhelming, message. “Remember, even Jesus had people who didn’t love him.”
On a more serious note, he urged lawmakers to take politics out of climate change.
“There will always be political differences,” Ms Ardern said during her welcome, wearing a traditional Maori cloak called a korowai. “But underneath that, we have what we need to make the progress we need.”
When Ms Ardern finished her speech after about 35 minutes, she was greeted by lawmakers from across the political spectrum with rapturous applause and rousing renditions of several indigenous Maori songs.
Ms Ardern, a global icon of the left and an inspiration to women around the world, resigned as Prime Minister in January, saying: It’s that simple.” But he stayed on as a lawmaker until April to avoid a snap election before the country’s general election in October.
Later this month, Ms Ardern will begin a new, unpaid role in the fight against online extremism as a special envoy for the Christchurch Call. It’s an initiative he launched with French President Emmanuel Macron in May 2019, two months after a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
He also announced that he is joining the board of trustees of The Earthshot Prize, founded by Britain’s Prince William.
Ms Ardern said she entered politics based on her convictions but learned her tenure was defined by a different list.
“Domestic terrorism. Volcanic eruption. Epidemic. A series of events where I’ve been in people’s lives at their saddest or most traumatic moments,” he said. “Their stories and faces remain etched in my mind and probably forever.”
She also described how she and fiancé Clarke Gayford thought they might not be able to have a baby after a failed round of IVF.
“Instead of that process, I campaigned to become prime minister,” he joked. “Pretty good drift as far as they go. Imagine my surprise when I found out a few months later that I was pregnant.’
Ms Ardern became the second elected world leader to give birth in office after she and Mr Gayford welcomed their daughter Neve in 2018.
Ms Ardern described how she approached the COVID-19 pandemic on a scientific basis and how New Zealand performed best among developed countries in measuring excess mortality.
He said he once tried to argue with a lone protester about a false conspiracy theory.
“But after many of these same experiences and seeing the anger that often sat behind these conspiracies, I had to admit that I was wrong,” he said. “I couldn’t pull someone down the rabbit hole by myself.”
Ms Ardern said she was concerned that during the pandemic the nation had lost a sense of safety and the ability to engage in serious debate in a respectful way.
He also described how he never thought he would get the role of Prime Minister and how it came about through an amazing chain of events.
While she could not control how her tenure would be defined by others, Ms Ardern said she hoped it showed otherwise.
“That you can be troubled, sensitive, kind and wear your heart on your sleeve,” she said. “You can be a mother or not, you can be an ex-Mormon or not, you can be crazy, a crybaby, a hugger, you can be all of these things, and not only can you be here, you can lead, just like me.”
This is reported by the Associated Press.