19 Jan 2023

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigns: Politicians and New Zealanders pay tribute

2:33 pm on 19 January 2023
National Party Leader Christopher Luxon

National Party leader Christopher Luxon thanked Ardern for her service to Aotearoa. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation, tributes to her time as leader came flooding in from all walks of life across the country.

Labour reacts

Justice Minister Kiri Allan said she was incredibly proud to have served as a minister in her Cabinet.

"The imprint that she will have on Aotearoa, which she has given to us, will go down in history and she will be one of our most significant leaders.

"We're shocked but we send with her love, we send her and whanau with compassion.

"It's been an incredibly challenging past few years, she's made that call and we love her."

Minister Carmel Sepuloni said upon finding out about the decision, the Labour caucus was one of "absolute respect for Jacinda". She said the caucus supported Ardern in her decision and were unified.

Minister for Covid-19 Ayesha Verrall said she was privileged to have served with Ardern "and to have witnessed her strength, intellect and humanity as she lead us through the pandemic".

"Her leadership saved tens of thousands of New Zealand lives."

Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti said "no words" could convey how she felt about Ardern.

"Not only has she been the most incredible boss but she has been a huge support to me in a personal capacity, I will never, ever forget the support and aroha she gave to me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"Jacinda is a great leader, the hardest working person I have ever met but above all that what will always stand out for me is that she is a kind, generous, fiercely loyal person of the utmost integrity."

Transport and Immigration Minister Michael Wood said he was "very proud" to have served under Ardern.

"One of the finest prime ministers we've ever had ... today's about recognising her extraordinary achievements over a period of momentous years for New Zealand.

After the announcement Attorney General and Environment Minister David Parker tweeted "For Grant" but clarified to an RNZ reporter that this was an inside joke. Asked whether it was a good time to make a joke like that, he laughed and said: "It worked for me."

Labour Minister Phil Twyford said Ardern's time as prime minister had been "momentous".

"Jacinda Ardern's made a massive contribution to New Zealand over five years as prime minister I think she has rewritten the rulebook on leadership and yeah she's going to be missed."

Labour MP Kieran McAnulty said he was blindsided by Ardern's decision to resign and he was informed alongside his colleagues at 7.30am.

Labour MP Ibrahim Omer said Ardern would be dearly missed. "Throughout the past five and a half years, she has led with decisiveness, empathy and kindness. She will leave behind a huge legacy for whoever takes over. Many of us were inspired by her to get into politics and serve Aotearoa, including myself."

Labour MP Rachel Boyack said it had been an enormous privilege to serve as a Labour MP under Ardern's leadership. "There will be more to say, but for now, thank you for showing that kindness and empathy can be part of good leadership. And for showing such love and support to the people of Nelson in our tough times during the Pigeon Valley Fires and the 2022 floods."

Rainbow Labour said Ardern has been Aotearoa's most progressive prime ninister when it comes to the rights of rainbow people. "There is so much that could be said about her bravery, tenacity, and skills as prime minister, but to us, we will always remember her pride."

"E te Pirimia, e te rangatira, e te wāhine toa, ngā mihi, ngā mihi, ngā mihi ki a koe," Young Labour posted to Facebook. "You are, and will always be, an inspiration to all of us. While we are sad to see you go, we hope you enjoy a well-deserved rest."

From across the political spectrum

National Party leader Christopher Luxon said: "On behalf of the National Party, I offer to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern our thanks for her service to New Zealand.

"She has given her all to this incredibly demanding job and I wish her and her family all the very best for the future. Thank you Jacinda."

National's Nicola Willis said Ardern "gave her all to what is an incredibly demanding job. We wish her and her family all the very best for the future. Thank you Jacinda", with her fellow National MP Chris Bishop echoing that message.

Green Party leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw said Ardern has been a tireless and decisive leader who they would be sorry to see go.

"Her compassion in times of crisis, her determination to make progress towards a fairer Aotearoa, and her leadership of two multi-party governments is a cause for huge admiration."

"Our country needed the grace of a wahine to lead us through this period of our history and she did so with the utmost humility and integrity," Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

"It is a sad day for politics where an outstanding leader has been driven from office for constant personalisation and vilification. Her whānau have withstood the ugliest attacks over the last two years with what we believe to be the most demeaning form of politics we have ever seen."

"We will remember Jacinda Ardern for catapulting the voice of wahine and youth onto the world stage. Her fearlessness, courage and determination broke glass ceilings" co-leader Rawiri Waititi said.

"It is now time for Labour with the biggest Māori caucus ever to continue breaking glass ceilings by appointing a Tangata Whenua leader as the prime minister to lead the government into the next election.

Shaw, who as a minister served in Ardern's executive, said he was "in shock, but not wholly surprised".

"I will miss her greatly because I think she has been an extraordinary leader during an extraordinary time in our history. I've obviously got quite a close working relationship with her - and have over a number of years - and you can just see the toll that the job has been taking.

"In my experience Jacinda Ardern is one of the most dedicated, selfless, values-based politicians of our generation, and she has given this job absolutely everything that she has to offer."

The job had been hard, he said.

"Frankly our government over the last five years has been a very ambitious government with a huge work programme, and that would keep any government busy.

"But on top of that she has navigated us through the Whakaari White Island disaster, the Christchurch terrorist attack, the Covid crisis and response and so on. There's just never been a moment of business as usual ... the circumstances of the last five years have been more extreme than any prime minister over the last three or four years has had to face.

"I support her decision, I'm going to be very sorry to see her go, she's been not just a colleague but a friend and a supporter to me for many years now, but I absolutely support her decision."

Shaw reiterated that the coalition agreement between Labour and the Greens stood firm.

"I'm absolutely committed to getting a third term in government. ...I'm looking forward to serving out the rest of this term in our cooperation agreement with the Labour party, and the next term as well."

ACT Party leader David Seymour posted his statement to Facebook and said: "Jacinda Ardern is a well-meaning person, but her idealism collided hard with reality. We wish her and her family well for their future."

Greens MP Eugenie Sage MP thanked Ardern for the "warmth and empathy, grace, and intelligence that has been such a feature of your time as prime minister - whether it's on the international stage or here on an East Coast marae.

"Thank you for being such a strong, people focused leader who has charted the course for Aotearoa in challenging times; and for giving it your all, always. We have been very fortunate to have you as prime minister."

Efeso Collins shared his best wishes to Ardern and her whānau on Twitter. "You've led with grace and dignity. I hope you get to enjoy a good break after April as well as some really special days with your family. Malo le tauivi, malo le tausinio."

Kim Dotcom, of the Internet Freedom Party, said on Twitter "she's been subject to much criticism and abuse. I believe she has tried her best. She had a great start and then came Covid-19."

He said he wished her, partner Clarke and their daughter Neve all the best.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said she had "given her absolute all in a challenging role during an extraordinarily challenging time".

"I have no criticism of her, or her decision to step down, and look forward to working with both the prime minister and her successor."

Prominent New Zealanders

Kīngi Tūheitia said he was saddened at Ardern's resignation, with a spokesperson saying they had a close working and personal relationship.

He is currently in Hawaii for the funeral of Hawaiian Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa.

Principal advisoer Rukumoana Schaafhausen said the Kiingitanga was paying tribute to the advances that have been made for Māori, particularly around Waikato.

"It's very sad news but as the Kiingitanga, as Te Iwi Māori with the Crown we still have a lot of unfinished work to do and so that won't change," Schaafhausen said.

"We will deal with whoever the new leader is."

Northland iwi leader and climate activist Mike Smith said he was sad to see Jacinda Ardern resign, despite several differences.

Smith, who is a member of the Iwi Chairs Forum, said the country had made advances on several Māori issues under Ardern's leadership.

Greenpeace Aotearoa thanked Ardern for "taking the courageous decision to ban new offshore oil and gas exploration permits".

"You listened to the voices of hundreds of thousands of concerned New Zealanders, chose a safe and stable climate for all over the profits of a polluting industry, and stood on the right side of history. It is still the most significant climate policy in Aotearoa's history."

Comedian Michèle A'Court said on Twitter Ardern was the "best PM we have ever had".

"Pleased she will get her life back. She deserves all good things."

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