Jacinda Ardern has announced she will quit as New Zealand prime minister ahead of this year’s election, saying she no longer has “enough in the tank’, to lead. Speaking at a Labour Party Retreat on Thursday she said “I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility, the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple,” she said. “I am human, politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” she added.
Ardern said she had reflected over the summer break on whether she had the energy to continue in the role, and had concluded she did not.
Her term as prime minister will conclude no later than 7 February but she will continue as an MP until the election this year.
“This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life. But it’s also had its challenges – among an agenda focused on housing, child poverty and climate change, we encountered a … domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis,” she said.
Asked how she would like New Zealanders to remember her leadership, Ardern said “as someone who always tried to be kind”.
“I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go,” Ardern said.
Ms Ardern is the youngest woman ever elected as a head of government. Elected in 2017, she led New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic, and a series of disasters including the terrorist on two mosques in Christchurch, and the White Island volcanic eruption.
She announced a general election in October.
Ardern did not indicate any future plans in politics, other than to spend more time with her family.
She thanked her partner, Clarke Gayford, and daughter Neve, whom she gave birth to while holding office, as “the ones that have sacrificed the most out of all of us”.