Jacinda Ardern-Prime Minister of New Zealand (2017-2023): Portraying a New Style of Leadership for the 21st Century

Written by Dia Abdul 19/03/2024

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 is time to go.

Jacinda Ardern

The Early years of Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern was born on July 26, 1980, in the city of Hamilton, as the daughter of Ross Ardern, police officer and Laurell Ardern, school cook. Grew up in the rural New Zealand town of Morrinsville. Her mother started narrating stories to her and her older sister Louise as infants and holding flashcards of the names of various objects around the house, so they could build strong relationships with words and become readers.

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In her teenage years, she started being moved by book series such as Tessa Duder’s Alex, and Nancy Drew. Sometimes she pretended that there were similar adventures to be had in the nearby forest, the way that the fictional character Nancy Drew was having in solving mysteries and crimes.

When she was about 14, after the holiday she took with her father in a beach town, her reading habit changed to non-fiction books about explorers such as Shackleton, Scott, and Oates. As she spent some memorable times with her father narrating tales about groups of explorers or travelers in Antarctica. Although they did not resemble the life she had in the small town, the life of adventure instilled in her a sense of wonderment about how these individuals with the same abilities as her were able to do extraordinary things.

Adren continued her studies in local state schools, which helped her to embody a keen sense of communal responsibility from an early tender age. From here her interest in politics grew as she viewed it as a means to make change in the world.


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At the age of 17, she joined the Labour Party.


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She received her Bachelor of Communication Studies in politics and public relations, at the University of Waikato.


She became senior advisor of Tony Blair, then-British prime minister.

November 2008

She entered New Zealand’s Parliament.

2008 - 2010

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She was the president of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY), her position gave her the chance to explore a variety of cultures as she traveled to China, Algeria, Jordan, and Israel.

February 25, 2017

She wins the MP seat representing MT.Albert
on August 1, 2017, the Labour party elected her as the party’s leader, seven weeks before the 2017 election.

October 26, 2017

When she was only 37 years old, became the prime minister, New Zealand’s third female prime minister and the youngest ever. Although she came from a small town and maybe never imagined herself being in that position at a youthful age, but the adventurous side she developed as a child, her rich journey, working in the national and international political spheres, and her sense of communal responsibility, together worked as driving force. The accumulation of all of them gave her courage and inner sense of direction to put three critical issues on her agenda, including climate change, inequality, and child poverty.

Ardern’s Special Traits

She re-wrote rules for the characteristics of a successful and influential leader. Amongst these qualities: empathetic, kind, transparent, and determined.

These qualities are reflected in her multi-tasking, dealing with three major crises, and her graceful departure.

January 19, 2018

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Adren with her partner, Clarke Gayford (TV presenter), announced her pregnancy.

June 21, 2018

She gave birth to her daughter Neve Te Aroha. She became the
second woman to give birth while in office, after Benazir Bhutto-the former prime minister of Pakistan. Also, the first woman to go on the maternity leave while in office (taking six weeks), which she had previously announced. The deputy prime minister, Peters, served as acting prime minister

March 15, 2019

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18 months after Ardern’s election, New Zealand, for the first time in its modern history, witnessed a deadly attack on the Muslim community at two mosques in Christchurch. The attacks resulted in the death of 51 people; in response she did the following:

  • Minutes after the attack she made a clear speech embracing the immigrant and refugee communities targeted in the attack, stating that “they are us.”
  • Visited the victims and wore a hijab, to create a sense of oneness
  • Denounced the shooter as a terrorist, to calms hatred
  • Introduced bipartisan gun control legislation to show her determination in solving the issue

December 2019

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Volcano eruption occurred, that caused the death of 16 people on White Island. Her response was a visit guided by empathy and paying tribute.


When Covid-19 pandemic occurred, Adren’s government led the country to adopt Zero Covid-19 approach. Which is why they were amongst one of the first ones to issue lockdown, stating “we go hard, we go early.” Their plan consisted of four levels, from cautionary restrictions at level one to a full-scale lockdown at level four.

  • Opened Facebook live; centered around Q&A to connect with the public and enacted of pay cut – 10 per cent for MPs and 20 per cent for ministers, which officially took effect on July 9.
  • The country recorded 2,437 deaths during the pandemic, which ranked the country amongst the lowest death rates in the developed world.
  • She introduced the metaphor of refereeing to the whole nation as a team of “five million” and thanking them for working towards achieving the goals during the crisis.

January 19, 2023

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Ardern announced she would resign as New Zealand’s Prime Minister.

Her graceful departure shocked many, as usually leaders find it difficult to step down without further attempts to cling to power. However, she was self-aware and humble enough to tell the public that she was no longer able to serve at the level the job required, after five and a half years of giving her all.

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.

Jacinda Ardern

Interesting facts about her:

  • She does not drink coffee
  • Her zodiac sign is Leo
  • Learned to drive tractor before car
  • Worked as a DJ
Content Type:Character Sketch
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