Jacinda Arden has gone ‘power mad’ says Tonia Buxton
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Jacinda Arden, who became the world’s youngest female head of government when she was elected aged just 37, has announced she will be standing down as Prime Minister of New Zealand, claiming she did not have “enough in the tank” to continue in the role. Her decision comes as her Labour Party is tasked with a difficult re-election in October this year. Her replacement is expected to be found on Sunday when votes are cast. Now, Express.co.uk looks at five of Ms Arden’s best moments in office.
Defining election win
Barely three months after being chosen to lead the Labour Party, Ms Arden had cause to celebrate again after it was confirmed that the party had gained enough seats to create a coalition with New Zealand First.
The coalition received “confidence and supply” from the Green Party, and she was officially sworn in a week later. Speaking as she assumed office, Ms Arden described how her Government would be “focused, empathetic and strong”.
In being elected, the then 37-year-old became the Pacific Ocean nation’s third female leader after Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark, who were Prime Ministers between 1997 and 1999, and 1999 and 2008, respectively.
Some months later the Hamilton-born politician announced she was pregnant, and she became only the second elected head of Government to give birth while in office, after Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan.
Compassion and leadership during terror attacks
On March 15, 2019, New Zealand was plunged into chaos and heartbreak as a lone gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, one of the island’s biggest cities, with 51 killed.
It left a dark cloud over a devastated nation, with countries around the world offering their condolences after witnessing the terrifying scenes. Among them was the late Queen Elizabeth II, who described being “deeply saddened by the appalling events”. She added: “At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”
Ms Arden moved quickly to condemn the heinous acts of the terrorist in an address, speaking of how they had left New Zealand reeling from one of its “darkest days”.
In a tweet later, she concluded: “What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.”
She moved at an unprecedented rate to tighten gun laws, banning military-style semi-automatic firearms less than a week after the attack. It led to more than 62,000 firearms being removed from circulation.
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World-leading response to COVID-19
By 2020, Ms Arden was recognised as one of the world’s most influential leaders, and the coronavirus pandemic saw her rise once again thanks to her response to the outbreak.
Making several difficult decisions to avoid her country from being devastated, Ms Arden helped ensure New Zealand was protected from the threat, with its economy able to recover faster than nearly every other country on the planet.
She imposed a national lockdown and border closures in the moments after the first cases were recorded three years ago. The approach was commended by many New Zealanders, though some stranded in other nations unable to return home weren’t so happy.
Marking out her willingness to follow her government’s rules, Ms Arden’s wedding was postponed. During her resignation speech, she referenced this, telling longtime partner Clarke Gayford they could now get hitched.
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First Prime Minister to take part in a Pride parade
A year after her famous election win, Ms Arden cemented her legacy by becoming the first Prime Minister to march in a Pride parade when attending the 2018 event with Grant Robertson, New Zealand’s Finance Minister.
The LGBTQ+ events are held globally each year to support the community, and Ms Arden’s involvement saw her make headlines the world over.
Speaking about the event, she said: “Let’s all recommit to keep doing the work that’s required and make sure that we show that international solidarity so that everyone can celebrate who they are, no matter where in the world they live.”
Ms Arden followed through on her promises.: throughout her tenure, the leader put in place a series of policies to support Rainbow New Zealanders, including the banning of conversion therapy, and giving more money to specialised mental health services.
Support after Whakaari/White Island eruption
Another devastating moment in Ms Arden’s six years in charge came again in 2019 when Whakaari/White Island erupted on December 9, killing 21 people.
Showing her unwavering support for those affected, Ms Arden met with first responders in Whakatāne, a town around 25 nautical miles (48km) from the volcanic island.
She recognised their efforts, describing the “incredible job” completed “under devastating circumstances”. During a later address to Parliament, Ms Arden added: “I say to those who have lost and grieve – you are forever linked to our nation and we will hold you close.”
To help the Whakatāne community, she created the Whakatāne District Council Mayoral Relief Fund to support them.
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