Jacinda Ardern: A Symbol of Tolerance and Hope

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Faces Her Hardest Challenge 



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  1. Jacinda was born on July 26, 1980 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Her upbringing taught her the importance of public service, as her father was a police officer while her mother worked as a school-catering assistant. 
  2. It was her aunt, however, who introduced the young Jacinda to the world of politics. Aunt Marie Arden was a veteran member of the New Zealand Labour Party, and in 1999 she recruited Jacinda to be part of Labour MP Harry Duynhoven’s re-election campaign. 
  3. She would then attend the University of Waikato and in 2001 she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in politics and public relations. 
  4. She would eventually join the Labour Party and show her leadership skills early on as she became a senior figure in Young Labour, the youth division of the party.
  5. During her early political career, she worked as a researcher at the offices of MP Phil Goff and former Prime Minister Helen Clark, respectively.
  6. She then moved to London and became a senior policy advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It should be noted that she never actually met Blair during his premiership, as she was part of an 80-person team. 
  7. Jacinda is a critic of capitalism as she cited it as a cause of homelessness in New Zealand. Moreover, in 2008 she became the President of the International Union of Socialist Youth. 
  8. By 2008, she rose to up the ladder of her party as she ranked 20thin the Labour party list, this was no doubt a testament to her hard work and perseverance.  
  9. This encouraged her to return from London and run for the seat in Waikato, but she subsequently lost the vote. Nevertheless, her high rank within the party and the unique electoral system in New Zealand enabled her to become a list MP in parliament. 
  10. Phil Goff, who was at the time the leader of opposition, promoted her to the front bench and appointed her as the party’s spokesperson for youth affairs. 
  11. In the 2011 election she ran for and lost the seat for Auckland Central, but since she was ranked 13thin the Labour list, she remained a list MP. This time was also appointed Shadow Cabinet Spokesperson for Social Development. 
  12. The 2014 election was a rinse and repeat of 2011, as she failed to win the Auckland Central seat, but she was ranked even higher than last time as she was 5thin the Labour list. This time the leader of opposition appointed her Shadow Spokesperson for Justice, Children and Small Business. 
  13. Her big moment came in 2017. In that year, as Labour MP David Shearer stepped down from his seat in Mount Albert. Jacinda latched on to this golden opportunity and ran unopposed in the Mount Albert by election and finally became an elected MP. Fortune would continue to smile at Jacinda as Annette King, the incumbent deputy Labour leader at the time, resigned from her post. Shortly afterward, Jacinda was elected as Labour’s new deputy leader. 
  14. Then on August 1, Labour leader Andrew Little resigned due to the party’s low polling. That same day, a Labour party caucus meeting took place to elect a new leader and Jacinda was then unanimously elected. Thanks to a series of fortunate events, Jacinda went from a list MP to New Zealand’s leader of opposition. She was now only the second woman to become leader of the Labour Party.
  15.  Jacinda revitalised the Labour party as she proved to be a popular politician across New Zealand, also for the first time in years the Labour party was polling higher than the New Zealand National Party.
  16. As a progressive, she has campaigned in favour various issues such as decriminalising abortion, legalizing recreational cannabis use and a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
  17.  After the 2017 General Election, no party was able to command a majority in government. As such, Jacinda formed a coalition with the New Zealand First Party enabling her to become the new Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  18. Her darkest hour would eventually come on March 15, 2019. On that day a white nationalist terrorist killed at least 50 Muslims at two Mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers. This was the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history and the first one since 1985. 
  19. As Prime Minister, she led the country’s mourning process, as she was the first person to sign a national condolence book. She also met with family members of the victims and the wider Christchurch Muslim community while wearing a hijab, thus becoming a symbol of love and tolerance in a world of rising hate and xenophobia. She did not want the 50 victims to die in vain as she instantly took action to tighten gun laws, among the new legislations that her government issued was a national ban on assault rifles. 
  20. Jacinda Ardern has now set an example for other world leaders on how to respond to a crisis and how to ensure that everyone within their states feels safe and welcome.

 
 


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