News & Current Affairs
Former New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, Named Dame
Jacinda Ardern, the former prime minister of New Zealand who resigned earlier this year, has been given one of the greatest honours the country has to offer: the title of dame.
Ardern was one of 182 people honoured for their achievements to New Zealand on Monday, marking the King's Birthday, when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement.
Hipkins said in a statement that Ardern was honoured because she "served as Prime Minister from 2017 to 2023, during some of the greatest challenges our country has faced in modern times."
"Leading New Zealand’s response to the 2019 terrorist attacks and to the Covid-19 pandemic represented periods of intense challenge for our 40th Prime Minister, during which time I saw first hand that her commitment to New Zealand remained absolute.”
Ardern's predecessor as party leader, Hipkins, is also a member of the Labour Party.
Ardern is now a Dame Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit as a result of the modification. Established in 1996, the Order of Merit recognises and honours "meritorious service to the Crown and the nation" and "eminence, talents, contributions, or other merits" in any subject.
Ardern, speaking to CNN's New Zealand affiliate RNZ, described herself as "incredibly humbled" by the award.
“I was in two minds about accepting this acknowledgement,” she said. “So many of the things we went through as a nation over the last five years were about all of us rather than one individual.”
“But I have heard that said by so many Kiwis who I encouraged to accept an honour over the years. And so for me this is a way to say thank you – to my family, to my colleagues, and to the people who supported me to take on the most challenging and rewarding role of my life.”
Ardern became New Zealand's third female leader and one of the world's youngest leaders when she took office in 2017, at the age of 37. Within a year of taking office, she became the second world leader to have a child while in power.
The terrorist assault in Christchurch, the fatal volcanic explosion, and the pandemic all occurred during her term in power.
As a result of her compassion while guiding New Zealand through these difficulties and her decision to bring her infant daughter to the United Nations General Assembly, she rose fast to become a progressive global icon.
The rising cost of living, housing shortages, and economic worry all contributed to a decline in her popularity at home. And she was threatened during violent anti-lockdown rallies in the nation's capital of Wellington.
When Ardern unexpectedly resigned as prime minister in January, saying she lacked the energy to run for office again, she was met with waves of applause and kind farewells from other world leaders and her many foreign supporters.
Since leaving politics in April, Ardern has become New Zealand's Special Envoy for the Christchurch Call and trustee of Prince William's Earthshot Prize.
The Harvard Kennedy School is the university's school of public policy and government, and in April she announced she would be attending Harvard this autumn to finish two fellowships there. She will miss the New Zealand general election by a semester, but she plans to return after completing her fellowships.