With tearful eyes, former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden, bid goodbye to the nation during her final address to the country’s parliament on Wednesday. In her speech, she said that all New Zealanders should feel politics can be a home for them. Ardern led the nation during the Covid pandemic and a terror attack in Chrstchurch.
Ardern, who thanked her family, her political party and her supporters, had stepped down as prime minister in January saying she had “no more in the tank” to lead the country.
Ardern made news all over the world when she became the world’s youngest female head of government at the age of 37. She delivered a baby while she was in office and even took her baby to a United Nations meeting.
Though she was popular abroad, higher prices, rising crime and controversial reforms in New Zealand eventually eroded her support.
In her speech, Ardern said she found herself involved in people’s lives “during their most grief-stricken or traumatic moments” in that series of events.
“Their stories and faces remain etched in my mind and likely will forever,” Ardern said on Wednesday in parliament wearing a gifted korowai, a traditional Maori cloak, seen as a mark of honour and prestige.
The daughter of a policeman and school canteen operator, and a self-described “hugger and a cries”, Ardern said she wanted her career to inspire others to take office.
“You can be anxious, sensitive, kind, and wear your heart on your sleeve,” she said with tears in her eyes. “You can be a mother or not, an ex-Mormon or not. A nerd, a crier, a hugger, you can be all of these things and not only can you be here, you can lead just like me.”