Jacinda Ardern shuts down reporter asking ‘similar in age’ question

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The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern has made the surprise announcement that she plans to step down from her position next month. Following Ms Ardern’s resignation, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson declared he will not be in the running for leadership of the ruling Labour Party. Consequently, it is uncertain as to who will take on this role until the elections are concluded with Nanaia Mahuta, the first female foreign minister in New Zealand’s history, considered to be one of the frontrunners.

Ms Mahuta’s appointment in 2020 brought attention to the significance of traditional Māori tattoos, known as moko, which serve as expressions of the wearer’s cultural and ancestral identity

The 52-year-old is the daughter of Sir Robert Mahuta, a prominent Māori politician in his own right and brother of the late queen of the Maori.

As foreign minister, Ms Mahuta has looked to maintain a diplomatic balance between the US and China.

Last year she stated that the region is not “altogether comfortable with either superpower”, implying that they must find a third way.

As Minister of Local Government in New Zealand, Ms Mahuta has come under scrutiny due to her policies on water ownership. In particular, the Three Waters Entities Bill raised many eyebrows.

The bill seeks to transfer the ownership of water assets owned by the local government to four new entities. The management of these assets will be done by a board, which will include Māori representation.

Critics of the bill have raised concerns about mana whenua’s right to veto decisions related to water management if it passes, mana whenua being the indigenous people of New Zealand.

In response, Ms Mahuta has dismissed concerns as “politically charged” and denied the bill gives local tribes the right to a veto, telling reporters when pressed: “That’s been very much a politically charged perspective put out there to seed fear around a new way of working.”

Jacinda Ardern announces resignation as New Zealand PM

During her resignation speech, Ms Ardern expressed her gratitude for being able to serve her country and declared that she would not run for another term.

She said: “I think I’ve spent so much time thinking hard about this decision because it’s such a critical one that there hasn’t been too much time I think for self-reflection. I imagine that I would do that in the coming months ahead.

“But I consider every moment, even the hardest of moments, to be a privilege. It’s one thing to lead your country in peace times, it’s another to lead them through crisis.

“There’s a greater weight of responsibility, a greater vulnerability amongst the people, and so in many ways, I think that will be what sticks with me. I had the privilege of being alongside New Zealand during crisis, and they placed their faith in me.”

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Ms Ardern on Thursday also announced that New Zealand’s 2023 general elections would be held on October 14 and that she would remain a lawmaker until then.

It’s unclear who will take over as prime minister until the election.

Labour Party lawmakers will vote for a new leader on Sunday. If no candidate gets at least two-thirds support from the caucus, then the leadership contest will go to the wider party membership.

Ms Ardern has recommended the party chose her replacement by the time she finishes in the role on February 7.

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