15 times Jacinda Ardern has shown she’s a true leader

During her time as Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has navigated New Zealand through unprecedented times. Through it all, she’s become known as someone who leads with kindness, compassion and strength, while keeping the wellbeing of Kiwis at the heart of her approach.

To celebrate five years of Jacinda leading the Labour Party, we’re taking a look back at some of her most defining moments.

She spoke about the importance of democracy and kindness at Harvard

In May 2022, Jacinda Ardern delivered a powerful commencement speech to an audience of more than 30,000 people at Harvard University. Dressed in a kakahu and graduation robe, Jacinda spoke about the challenge of disinformation, and the importance of democracy and kindness.

Jacinda ended the speech by saying: “We are the richer for our difference, and poorer for our division. Through genuine debate and dialogue, through rebuilding trust in information and one another, through empathy – let us reclaim the space in between. After all, there are some things in life that make the world feel small and connected, let kindness be one of them.’’

She delivered a world-leading response to COVID-19

Jacinda's leadership throughout New Zealand's COVID-19 response has been globally recognised. The tough calls she made to protect the nation’s health saw New Zealand avoid the devastation seen overseas, and set up our economy to recover faster than almost any other country in the world.

She promoted unity and compassion after the March 15 mosque terror attacks

On March 15 2019, a lone gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 people. Jacinda Ardern moved swiftly to denounce the gunman and his actions, stating in a press conference: "You may have chosen us, but we utterly reject and condemn you." 

Jacinda also moved quickly to tighten New Zealand’s gun laws, banning military-style semi-automatic firearms just six days after the attacks, and removing over 62,000 prohibited firearms from circulation through the gun buy-back scheme. On top of this, in May 2019, Jacinda joined France's President Emmanuel Macron to lead the Christchurch Call to Action, with the goal of eliminating terrorist and violent extremist content online.

She met with responders after the Whakaari/White Island eruption 

Another tragedy hit New Zealand when Whakaari/White Island erupted on December 9 2019, taking the lives of 21 people. 

The Prime Minister met with first responders in Whakatāne following the eruption, where she recognised the emergency service personnel for going above and beyond the line of duty: "They have done an incredible job under devastating circumstances."

Later, in an address to Parliament, speaking to the families of victims, she said: "I say to those who have lost and grieve – you are forever linked to our nation and we will hold you close." 

The Government provided assistance for the Whakatāne community’s immediate needs through the Whakatāne District Council Mayoral Relief Fund.

She made history at the United Nations General Assembly

Jacinda made headlines in 2018 by becoming the first world leader to bring her baby to the United Nations General Assembly meeting, just a few months after Neve was born. Neve even had an official United Nations ID made for her visit!

She introduced key policies to lift the wellbeing of children and families

Jacinda first entered politics to lift the wellbeing of children and families. As Prime Minister, Jacinda has overseen the introduction of the Families Package, landmark child poverty reduction legislation, the Winter Energy Payment, free, healthy lunches in schools, and other measures to support children and whānau. Policies like these have seen around 66,500 children lifted out of poverty so far, and the latest figures show all nine child poverty measures continue to trend downwards.

She introduced a new public holiday to celebrate Matariki

Under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership, our Government delivered on our commitment to establish a public holiday to celebrate Matariki, the start of the Māori New Year. This represents another step forward for our country, and one we’re proud to have taken as New Zealand continues to weave together different cultures to create our unique national identity.

She promised to support people through tough times

In April 2022, the Prime Minister said: “I was a child when the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s left many New Zealanders behind. It was a time of global uncertainty too, but the Government did not act to protect Kiwis. In fact, the inequality that grew out of that period still lingers today. We are determined not to repeat those mistakes.”

Throughout her time as Prime Minister, Jacinda has worked hard to lift incomes and support families through tough times. Recent steps our Government has taken include a new cost of living payment to support more than two million people with their bills, an extension to the fuel tax cut and half price public transport, and increases to Superannuation, student allowance and the minimum wage.

She took action on climate change, and is leading the way towards a zero carbon future

Under Jacinda Ardern's leadership, our Government has made tackling climate change a priority. In 2019, we passed the landmark Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, establishing in law our target of net zero carbon emissions – and this has remained at the centre of New Zealand’s climate goals ever since.

As Prime Minister, Jacinda has helped put in place policies that are paving the way towards a zero carbon future. This includes banning new offshore oil and gas exploration, phasing out single-use plastic bags, supporting businesses, schools and hospitals to switch to cleaner energy, making clean cars more affordable, and more.

She showcased Kiwi businesses on the world stage

To let the world know that New Zealand’s once again open for business, the Prime Minister set out on a series of trade and tourism trips, including to the United States in May 2022.

During the United States trip, Jacinda appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert – telling the international audience that Kiwi food and fibre products are not only the best in the world, but the best for the world. To back local businesses and our tourism industry, she also encouraged people to come and experience New Zealand’s manākitanga.

She balances leading a country and looking after her child

Being a parent comes with a unique set of challenges, whether that’s dealing with toddler tantrums, looking for lost stuff animals or fulfilling birthday cake requests.

In June 2022, the Prime Minister took to social media to share her ladybug cake, which she made to celebrate daughter Neve’s birthday.

She said: “This year was my turn on the birthday cake (or what I’ve come to know as the ‘stress bomb’) Neve requested a Ladybug, and after several disasters underneath A LOT of icing, this was the result. All edible aside from the eyes (I resorted to sharpie on lollipops 😳) Happy Birthday Neve Te Aroha!”

She launched New Zealand's first Wellbeing Budget

Jacinda worked with Finance Minister Grant Robertson to deliver New Zealand's - and the world's - first Wellbeing Budget in 2019. The Budget signalled a new approach to the way governments work, by placing the health and wellbeing of people at the heart of what we do.

“Today’s Budget shows you can be both economically responsible and kind. We are turning the corner on issues others have written off as too hard for too long – while keeping the books in order.”

Our Government has now released four Wellbeing Budgets, all with people-centred policies at their centre.

She was the first Prime Minister to march in a Pride parade

Jacinda Ardern became the first Prime Minister to march in a Pride parade when she attended the 2018 event alongside Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

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."

Over the past two terms, the Government has put in place a range of policies to support Rainbow New Zealanders, from banning conversion therapy to rolling out more funding for specialised mental health services. You can read more about this here.

She fought to close the gender pay gap and put free period products in schools

Addressing pay inequity for women was something Jacinda campaigned on before we entered Government. With the passing of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill in July 2020, she made good on Labour’s campaign promise by making it easier for employees to raise a pay equity claim.

Under Jacinda Ardern's leadership, the Government has also made period products freely available in all schools to provide fair access and equal opportunities in education for young Kiwi women.

... and she kept her cool during an earthquake!

In May 2020, Jacinda Ardern was midway through a live TV interview when a 5.8 earthquake hit the Beehive in Wellington.

When asked if she was okay to continue with the interview, without flinching, she glanced at the still-wobbling flag stands and coolly said: "I’m good. We're just having a bit of an earthquake here."

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