1 Aug 2017

Ardern: 'I absolutely believe that I am up to the job'

2:02 pm on 1 August 2017

Labour's new leader Jacinda Ardern says she and her team are preparing to run the 'campaign of our lives' in the lead-up to the September election.

Jacinda Ardern addresses media after being elected Labour Party leader

Jacinda Ardern addresses media after her election as Labour Party leader Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Ms Ardern and her new deputy Kelvin Davis were elected unopposed to take over the party's leadership this morning after former leader Andrew Little announced he would stepping down.

LIVE: Watch Jacinda Ardern's first appearance in Parliament as new Labour leader here:

Speaking to media this afternoon she thanked Mr Little and said she had big shoes to fill, but that she was ready for it.

Top takes

  • "This was not planned, but it has not weakened my or my team's resolve"
  • "I am a young proposition … but I believe I'm up to the job"
  • "We will be working extremely hard in the Māori seats … to take all of them"
  • "We're not going to come out of the election with 24 percent"
  • "People want to hear about our vision, not our internal machinations, so that's what we'll be focused on"
  • "Bring on 23 September"

A chance to build a better New Zealand was at stake and the party would be "positive, organised and ready", she said.

"The situation we have found ourselves in is not what anyone expected or wanted," she said.

However, that had not weakened her resolve, or the party's.

While she had previously said she didn't want the top job, Ms Ardern said these were "extraordinary circumstances".

"Granted, I am a young proposition for the party but ... I absolutely believe that I am up to the job."

Ms Ardern said she would take the next three days to take stock of Labour's campaign but that there would be some different ideas that she would be talking to the party about.

She was especially focused on inequality, she said.

She vowed to bring "relentless positivity" to the campaign, and said her and her team were preparing to run the "campaign of our lives".

"As a country we can do better than this. We can be better than this."

Ms Ardern heard of Mr Little's decision to step down this morning while she was in a taxi on the way from the airport to caucus, she said.

"I did feel humbled by the fact that Andrew nominated me to be leader today."

There would "absolutely" be a senior place for him in Cabinet if Labour was elected, she said.

"Andrew is a phenomenal member of Parliament. I don't think anyone questions his expertise, certainly not his values. He's worked tirelessly for the Labour Party."

Labour would be working "extremely hard" to retain its Māori seats "and, in fact, take all of them," Ms Ardern said.

In an overture to the Māori Party, though, Kelvin Davis told a reporter in te reo that the door was open to that party.

"They'll have to up their game if they want to work with us but we're open to anything after the election depending who is still standing," he said (translated).

"Kei te tuwhera te kuaha? (Is the door open?)" Mr Davis was asked.

"Kei te tuwhera tonu (It is still open)," he said.