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New Zealand Prime Minister Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during an interview in her office on 8 Dec, 2022. Hans Weston
jacinda ardern

From Christchurch attacks to Covid: Key moments from Jacinda Ardern's reign as New Zealand PM

‘Jacindamania’ has given way in recent months, with recent polls putting the centre-right coalition ahead.

NEW ZEALAND PRIME Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that she it is quitting after five years in the role.

She will step down next months after telling a meeting of her Labour Party: “I just don’t have enough in the tank for another four years.”

Ardern said her resignation would take effect no later than 7 February.

Here are some of the key moments of her time in power.

Christchurch Mosque attack

On 15 March, 2019, a white supremacist gunman targeted two mosques during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The gunman killed 51 people and seriously injured another 40.

Ardern won widespread praise for her response.

She donned a headscarf and comforted victims’ families after the shooting, which she later described as a spontaneous gesture of respect to the Muslim community.

new-zealand-ardern Jacinda Ardern, center, hugs and consoles a woman as she visited Kilbirnie Mosque to lay flowers among tributes to Christchurch attack victims. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

She also won plaudits for swiftly enacting gun law reforms and pushing social media giants to address online hate speech in the aftermath of the mass shooting.

Ardern again found herself comforting a shocked nation nine months later when a volcanic eruption at White Island, also known as Whakaari, killed 21 people and left dozens more with horrific burns.

jacinda-ardern-mural-melbourne Mural by street artist Loretta Lizzio depicting Jacinda Ardern embracing a woman in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, seen in Brunswick, Melbourne. AAP / PA Images AAP / PA Images / PA Images

Covid response

Ardern won a second term by a landslide in October 2020, a result underpinned by her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ardern, whose popularity was dubbed “Jacindamania”, labelled her second win “the Covid election”.

She campaigned on her government’s success in eliminating community transmission of the coronavirus, which at the time had claimed 25 lives in a population of five million.

new-zealand-covid19-border-relaxation Jacinda Ardern welcomes visitors from Australia at Wellington Airport on 13 April, 2022, after the relaxation of New Zealand's border settings. AAP / PA Images AAP / PA Images / PA Images

But two years after winning her second term, a small but vocal segment of New Zealand’s population turned against Ardern’s handling of the pandemic.

Across four weeks, starting in February last year, hundreds of demonstrators occupied the lawn in front of the distinctive Beehive parliament building in the capital Wellington.

Ardern refused to meet the protestors – many of them espousing anti-vaccine conspiracy theories – and said they were using “intimidation and harassment” to get their point across.

The demonstrations ended in a flurry of violence, with some people ripping up paving stones and hurling them at riot squad police who were attempting to clear the camp.

river (16) Protesters outside the parliament in Wellington in February, 2022.

More than 100 people were eventually arrested, with Ardern later describing the situation as “incredibly difficult” and “challenging”.

UN history

Ardern won accolades in September 2018 when she was photographed kissing and bouncing her then three-month-old daughter, Neve, inside the hall of the United Nations General Assembly.

This was the first such appearance by a baby in the organisation’s history.

new-zealand-prime-minister-jacinda-ardern-holds-her-baby-neve-after-speaking-at-the-nelson-mandela-peace-summit-during-the-73rd-united-nations-general-assembly-in-new-york-city-new-york-u-s-septem Jacinda Ardern holds her baby Neve after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

She was only the second prime minister to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990.

“I want to normalise it,” Ardern told CNN.

“By being more open it might create a path for other women.”

Upon announcing her pregnancy, Ardern told reporters: ”I’m not the first woman to work and have a baby…. There are many women who have done this well before I have.”

Hot mic

Ardern’s popularity waned as she battled declining trust in government, a deteriorating economic situation, and a resurgent conservative opposition.

Recent polls put the centre-right coalition ahead, with elections to be held on 14 October.

The stress has been evident in recent months – Ardern showed a rare lapse of poise when she was unwittingly caught on microphone calling an opposition politician an “arrogant prick”.

picture-by-tim-cuff-2-may-2019-prime-minister-jacinda-ardern-speaking-at-the-nelson-tasman-chamber-of-commerce-lunch-trafalgar-centre-nelson-ne Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking at the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce (File Image) Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

New Zealand’s Ambassador to Ireland

Later this month, former Labour Party MP Trevor Mallard will become the second resident ambassador of New Zealand’s to Ireland.

New Zealand media reports that Mallard will receive up to NZ$248,000 for the ambassador role.

He was appointed to the role by Jacinda Ardern but this was described as an “insult to our friends in Ireland” by David Seymour, who is the leader of the opposition ACT New Zealand party.

Mallard has been involved in several controversies.

He punched National Party MP Tau Henare in the New Zealand Parliament’s lobby in 2007.

In 2020, he settled a defamation case after he falsely accused a former staff member of rape.

Mallard also took the controversial decision to blast pop music at Covid-19 protestors in February of last year.

-With additional reporting from Diarmuid Pepper

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