Jacinda Ardern resigns as New Zealand PM amid UN career speculation mounts

Jacinda Ardern’s next job? The outgoing New Zealand Prime Minister is addressing rumors she is destined for a plum job at the UN after a shock resignation

  • Ms Ardern announced her resignation on Thursday
  • She denied that she was seeking a role at the United Nations
  • Ms Ardern said she was looking forward to spending time with the family

Jacinda Ardern has silenced rumors she will be leaving for a plum role at the UN after announcing her shock resignation as New Zealand prime minister.

Ms Ardern announced in an emotional news conference on Thursday that she would step down on February 7 after five and a half years in the top job.

When asked by a reporter if she would accept a position at the United Nations, Ms Ardern said she had no other career aspirations at the moment.

“That was my whole focus, as you can see from the fact that you were unaware of (my resignation) so (the UN) wasn’t my focus,” she said.

Jacinda Ardern has hit rumors she’s considering a career move to the United Nations after announcing her shock retirement

“My focus has been on this decision to support the Labor team at this next stage.

“Beyond that, I have no plans other than spending some quality time with my family and seeing what’s next.”

She said working for the UN was “never” her goal.

Ms Ardern had attracted worldwide attention when she brought her then four-month-old baby Neve to the United Nations in September 2018.

Sky News presenter Ashleigh Gillon remarked that job vacancies for the outgoing Prime Minister were “certainly coming thick and fast”.

She fought back tears as she made the announcement Thursday in front of a horde of media unaware she was stepping down.

“I know what this job requires. And I know I don’t have enough in the tank left to do it justice,” she said.

“I would be doing a disservice to continue.”

Ms Ardern said she was looking forward to spending more time with her family

Ms Ardern said she was looking forward to spending more time with her family

Ms Ardern hugs her fiance Clarke Gayford after announcing she is stepping down

Ms Ardern hugs her fiance Clarke Gayford after announcing she is stepping down

Ms Ardern had attracted worldwide attention when she brought her then four-month-old baby Neve to the United Nations in September 2018

Ms Ardern had attracted worldwide attention when she brought her then four-month-old baby Neve to the United Nations in September 2018

Ms Ardern said Labor would elect a new leader by the weekend but Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson would not run.

She was expected to announce an October 14 election date, which she did, but shocked all those who arrived by declaring her retirement from politics.

She said she left with no regrets and offered an easy way to remember.

“As someone who always tried to be friendly,” she said.

Mrs Ardern also reached out to her family; her fiance Clarke Gayford and four-year-old daughter Neve.

“Neve, Mom is looking forward to being with you when you go to school this year,” she said.

Ms Ardern hugs fellow MPs after announcing she would be stepping down from the top post

Ms Ardern hugs fellow MPs after announcing she would be stepping down from the top post

‘And to Clarke – let’s finally get married.’

Ms Ardern is stepping down at just 42 after becoming leader on 26 October 2017, just over five years ago, and was New Zealand’s youngest-ever Prime Minister and before that, in 2008 at 28, the youngest sitting MP.

She insisted her party, ahead of the upcoming election, was lagging in the polls against the rival National Party had nothing to do with her decision to step down.

“I’m not going because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe we can and will,” she said.

“But we need new shoulders for the challenges of this and the next three years.”

Ms Ardern has faced relentless criticism for imposing some of the world’s toughest Covid restrictions, including lockdowns that have left New Zealanders unable to even buy takeaway food and a border closure for more than two years.

But she denied that the constant attacks, which continued last year as the economy faltered and the cost of living rose, played a role in her decision.

“I don’t go because it’s hard … I know when I have enough in the tank to do it justice,” she said.

JACINDA ARDERNS FULL STATEMENT

“Being Prime Minister has been the greatest honor of my life and I would like to thank the people of New Zealand for the tremendous privilege of leading the country over the past five and a half years.

“With such a privileged role comes responsibility, including the responsibility of knowing when you are the right person to lead and when you are not.

“I gave everything to be prime minister, but it also took a toll on me. You can and should only do the job when you have a full tank and a little reserve for the unplanned and unexpected challenges that are inevitable.

“After thinking about the summer, I know I no longer have that extra something in the tank to do the job justice. As simple as that.

“I spoke to the governor-general this morning to let her know.

“In addition to our ambitious agenda aimed at tackling long-term problems like the housing crisis, child poverty and climate change, we also had to respond to a major biosecurity attack, a domestic terrorist attack, a volcanic eruption and a one-on-one attack centennial global pandemic and subsequent economic crisis. The decisions that had to be made were constant and serious.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the past five years despite many challenges. We have turned the child poverty statistics around and achieved the largest increases in welfare and public housing in many decades.

“We have made education and training easier to access, while improving workers’ pay and working conditions. And we’ve worked hard to make progress on issues surrounding our national identity – I believe teaching our history in schools and celebrating Matariki as our own indigenous national holiday will make a difference in the years to come.

“And we have done so while responding to some of the greatest threats to the health and economic well-being of New Zealanders, arguably since the Second World War.

“The Labor team is incredibly well placed to run in the next election. They are the most experienced team in the country and have shown they have the skills to respond to anything that comes their way.

“I’m not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe Labor can and will win it. We need new shoulders for the challenges of this and the next three years.

“As for my time on the job, I hope to leave New Zealanders believing that you can be kind but strong, empathetic but determined, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go.”

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Bradford Betz

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