She achieved a great deal during her five years in power – these are her greatest moments from her time as PM.
Handling of the pandemic
The PM was lauded for her response to Covid-19Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images
Ardern received praise from all around the world for her decisive, early action taken as Covid-19 hit. The country moved to Alert Level 4 on March 23, locking down the country and outlining plans to “go hard and go early”.
She then announced a raft of economic measures which included $52bn in emergency spending, as well as a plan to freeze rents and stop no-cause evictions for six months. It would help her to a landslide victory in the 2020 elections.
Ultimately, it was new lockdown measures announced in August 2021 that caused a drop in her poll ratings, with Ardern’s party falling to second in the ratings for the first time since the pandemic began. But Ardern’s early handling of the pandemic is a record which will always be remembered.
Taking action on climate change
Ardern took a progressive approach to fighting climate change during her tenure. She banned offshore oil and gas exploration, began ending the use of single-use plastic bags, and most importantly passed the Climate Change Response Amendment Bill which put down a new marker in New Zealand’s pursuit of net zero carbon emissions.
Celebrating Māori culture
Ardern meeting the Queen in 2018Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Ardern was always conscientious in celebrating Māori culture in New Zealand during her tenure. One moment came with her decision to wear a Māori cloak while attending the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, and the other came following the birth of her second child. When her daughter was born on 21 June in 2018, she paid tribute in her own way by choosing the baby name Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford – Te Aroha means “love” in Māori.
Making well-being a priority
One of the most progressive domestic measures brought forward by Ardern saw New Zealand become the first western country to announce a budget making well-being a priority and improving mental health services.
The well-being budget she introduced pledged the equivalent of £980m (NZ$1.9bn) for mental health services across the country.
Celebrating LGBTQ communities
Ardern took part in Pride celebrations in 2018Fiona Goodall/Getty Images
Ardern made history when she took part in the 2018 Pride parade next to Finance Minister Grant Robertson, becoming the first Prime Minister from the country to march in the parade.
"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,” she said at the time.
When she brought her young child to the UN
Ardern with her baby in Septeber 2018Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images
Ardern garnered praise for improving conditions for working mothers when she brought her three-month-old child to a meeting at the United Nations.
She was celebrated for helping to change perceptions for women in the workforce with children at the time, telling CNN: “If we want to make workplaces more open, we need to acknowledge logistical challenges. By being more open it might create a path for other women.”
Handling of the Christchurch terror attack
\u201cJust before New Zealand's parliament voted on a bill banning military-style semi-automatic weapons, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave this passionate speech. It passed, 119 to 1 https://t.co/lhj7NpLBBg\u201d
Two of the most defining moments in her time as PM came in the aftermath of national tragedies. The first came on 15 March 2019 when the country was rocked by the worst mass shooting in its history.
A gunman killed 51 people after opening fire on two mosques in the Christchurch terror attack. Following the horrific incident, Ardern met with victims’ families and made the poignant decision to never name the shooter.
“He sought many things from this act of terror, but one was notoriety, and that is why you will never hear me mention his name,” she told parliament.
After the event, she launched the Christchurch Call to Action with France’s Emmanuel Macron, which aimed to tackle terrorist content online. Most significantly, though, Ardern acted quickly to change the country’s gun laws. Semi-automatic firearms were banned just six days after the event and 62,000 prohibited firearms were taken out of circulation through a government-led buy-back scheme.
Handling of the White Island eruption
The second major tragic incident that took place during her time in office came during the Whakaari/White Island eruption later that year on 9 December 2019.
A total of 21 people lost their lives in the natural disaster, and Ardern met with first responders after the event and praised their heroic efforts in the days that followed.
Speaking in Parliament, she paid tribute to the families who had lost loved ones, saying: "I say to those who have lost and grieve – you are forever linked to our nation and we will hold you close."
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