The 42-year-old domestic worker – who faced natural disasters, the Covid-19 pandemic and the worst terrorist attack in New Zealand’s history – said she had “a tank of reserves” and “she gave her” when she was prime minister. Great at leading the country”, but it “requires a lot” from you.
“I’m a man. We’re giving it all we can, and my time has come,” he told a gathering of his Labor party members.
Ardern has pledged to stay in office until February 7, almost three years after she was guaranteed a second term.
Jacinda Orton became Prime Minister for the first time in 2017, becoming the country’s youngest female ruler.
Since “Jacintamania” in 2020, the Ardern government has been battling rising inflation and an imminent recession, taking points away from it in terms of popularity and strengthening the conservative opposition.
“I believe leading a country is the most privileged job anyone can have, but also one of the most challenging,” Ardern said. “It can’t and shouldn’t be done unless you have a full tank and some reserve for unexpected challenges.”
Jacinda Ardern received international recognition for her empathetic handling of the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, in which 51 Muslim worshipers died and 40 were injured. Later that year, the Prime Minister was praised for his decisive leadership during the fatal eruption of the White Island Volcano (also known as Wakkari).
On Thursday, Orton recalled some of the policies introduced in his government that made him “proud”, such as measures to tackle housing, climate change and child poverty.
“We did this while responding to the greatest threats to our nation’s health and economic well-being since World War II,” he said.
Having appeared on the covers of British magazines such as Vogue and Time, there was a perception that Ardern was more popular abroad than at home.
At its peak, it was a force in national politics, but its current government slipped up in last year’s elections.
The stress and strain is palpable for the Prime Minister. In a rare failure of emotional balance, he publicly called an opposition politician an “arrogant idiot”.
His departure leaves a vacuum in the leadership of the Labor Party.
Although recent polls indicated that a centre-right coalition would win the election, Ardern said there was no reason for her resignation.
“I’m leaving because there’s great responsibility in such a privileged job. The responsibility of knowing when you’re the right person to lead — and when you’re not.”
Ardern is the world’s second female prime minister to give birth in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990.
The Prime Minister said she was looking forward to spending more time with her daughter Nev, who will start school later this year, and finally having time to marry her partner Clark Gayford.
“New Zealand will elect its next Prime Minister at an election on October 14,” declared Ardern, who will continue to serve as an elected MP until the election.