Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, with her resignation to take effect upon the appointment of a new Prime Minister.
A caucus vote to elect a new Party Leader will take place on Sunday 22 January.
“Being Prime Minister has been the greatest honour of my life and I want to thank New Zealanders for the enormous privilege of leading the country for the last five and a half years,” Ms Ardern said.
“With holding such a privileged role comes responsibility, including the responsibility to know when you’re the right person to lead, and also when you’re not.
“I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.”
She said that having reflected on her role over the summer break, she no longer has “that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple”.
Ms Ardern that she had advised the Governor-General of her resignation this morning.
“In addition to our ambitious agenda that has sought to address long term issues like the housing crisis, child poverty and climate change, we also had to respond to a major biosecurity incursion, a domestic terror attack, a volcanic eruption and a one in one hundred year global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. The decisions that had to be made have been constant and weighty.”
“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved over the last five years in spite of the many challenges thrown at us. We’ve turned around child poverty statistics and made the most significant increases in welfare support and public housing stock seen in many decades.
“We’ve made it easier to access education and training while improving the pay and conditions of workers. And we’ve worked hard to make progress on issues around our national identify – I believe that teaching our history in schools and celebrating Matariki as our own indigenous national holiday will all make a difference for years to come.
“And we’ve done that while responding to some of the biggest threats to the health and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders, arguably since World War Two.”
She said the NZ Labour team was “incredibly well placed” to contest the next election.
“They are the most experienced team in the country and have shown they have the skills necessary to respond to whatever comes their way.”
“I’m not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe Labour can and will win it. We need a fresh set of shoulders for the challenges of both this year and the next three.
“As to my time in the job, 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,” she said.
Ms Ardern will remain the MP for Mt Albert through until April, meaning there will be no requirement for a by-election ahead of the General Election on October 14.