24 Dec 2017

How the PM winds down

From Sunday Morning, 11:25 am on 24 December 2017

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has a Christmas Eve chat with Wallace Chapman about her favourite music, books and movies and her upbringing.

"Summer is the one time I read for fun," Ardern says.

Her favourites are spy stories and Antarctic exploration stories.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing – which she first read as a teenager – is a powerful story of human resilience, she says.

"[Ernest Shackleton] was essentially on the ice for 18 months … his survival and the fact he kept his team alive, that became his success and what he was known for. That leadership I found astounding."

"I would encourage anyone to read it, it's fantastic."

Ardern listened to a lot of music growing up, and her first ever cassette was 1987's Tiffany by Tiffany, she says.

As a teenager in the 1990s, Ardern worked in a music store main street of Morrinsville and got to play whatever she wanted in the shop.

At the time, The Smashing Pumpkins were "one of the groups that I was really fanatical about", she says.

For a certain period, Ardern was simultaneously obsessed by grunge and The Beatles, she says.

"[SgtPepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band] was the first piece of vinyl I ever bought … Quite late in life I got to London and traipsed around market after market trying to find the oldest copy of this particular record that I could. I really love it."

The alternative gatefold sleeve for the Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The alternative gatefold sleeve for the Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Photo: Public domain

The song 'This Year' by American indie folk band The Mountain Goats (2005) served as her anthem for a while.

"I remember a particularly tough election where this was my anthem. You'll probably pick up from the lyrics of the chorus why it might have appealed to me."

TV-wise, Prime Minister Ardern likes "trashy formulaic crime shows".

A favourite recent movie was 2014's Dark Horse.

"That captured a side of New Zealand that was both hopeful and devastatingly sad at the same time … I found it incredibly moving."