Jacinda Ardern made her final public appearance as New Zealand’s prime minister on Tuesday, saying the thing she would miss the most was the people, because they had been the “joy of the job.”
Ardern, who has been a global icon of the left, shocked the nation last Thursday when she said she was resigning as leader after more than five years because she had nothing left in the tank.
Labour Party lawmakers voted unanimously on Sunday for Chris Hipkins to take over as prime minister, and he will be sworn in on Wednesday.
Ardern’s final act as leader was to join Hipkins and other lawmakers attending celebrations at the Rātana meeting grounds, the home of an Indigenous Māori religious movement.
Ardern also addressed the wide discussion that has been going on since her announcement about the vitriolic and misogynistic attacks on her on social media something she has said did not contribute to her decision to step down.
Hipkins who is the next Prime Minister told reporters the leadership transition was “bittersweet.”
“Obviously, I’m really honored to be taking on the role, but as is well known, Jacinda’s a very good friend of mine,” he said.
At the meeting grounds, Ardern was greeted with embraces and songs. She told those attending she would leave the job with a greater love and affection for New Zealand and its people than when she started.
Ardern plans to stay on as a Member of Parliament until April to avoid triggering a special election ahead of the nation’s general election scheduled to come up in October.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas