Meet the Youngest Government Head in the World, a 37-Year-Old Goal Crusher and Authenticity Powerhouse

Many might be overwhelmed by the prospect of assuming the leadership of a country at only 37.

For New Zealand’s pragmatic and down-to-earth Jacinda Ardern, it was all about doing a job that needed to be done. A job she knew she could do, despite detractors commenting on her age and lack of experience.

Prime-Minister-Jacinda-Ardern-Speaks-To-The-Media-After-Birth Of Baby Girl
Photo Credit: Fiona Goodall

But just months into her term, she’s proving them wrong. And she’s doing it as one of the very few women who’ve given birth during such a high-powered leadership role.

Serving as the Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party only since August 2017 and taking over as Prime Minister of New Zealand at the end of October 2017, Ardern has received worldwide praise for her work, which includes the $5 billion Families Package, a revolutionary overhaul of the country’s approach to child welfare.

The most impressive part? She had drafted it years ago on the floor of a friend’s apartment. And she herself receives no benefits from it – she was not eligible for paid parental leave after welcoming her daughter on June 21st.

He aha te mea niu o tea o. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. What is the most important thing in the world? The people, the people, the people.

— Maori proverb

Jacinda Ardern quoted thist Māori proverb during her speech at the meeting of the Commonwealth heads of government in April – an occasion that further solidified her international visibility and recognition by other heads of state.

Praised as a “political prodigy” by Time magazine, Ardern famously wore a Kahu huruhuru, a traditional Māori cloak, bestowed upon people of power. For New Zealanders and outsider observers alike, it was a clear sign: Ardern is proud to represent a multiethnic nation.

Welcoming her first child on June 21st, Ardern and her partner Clark Gayford named their daughter Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford. Te Aroha means “The Love” in Māori, and was given to her after Ardern invited New Zealand’s many tribes to help her find a name.

It is also meant as a recognition to the outpouring of love she and her partner received from kiwis throughout their pregnancy. Far from the pomp and circumstance of the arrival of Royal babies, Ardern and her partner Clark presented the child during a low-key press conference for the evening news. Gayford proudly wore his new “dad cardigan,” which he bought from a second-hand store.

Ardern’s partner (not husband) will be taking time off from his TV show hosting duties to stay at home and raise Neve Te Aroha, as Ardern goes back to her duties as Prime Minister. For the proud father, the decision was the most logical thing in the world – after all, his beloved has a country to run.

Ardern’s authentic approach to life and leadership is evident at every turn. As her revolutionary Families Package went into effect on July 1st, the Prime Minister took to Facebook to discuss some of its key provisions.

Bare of any make-up and baby on hand, having just finished breastfeeding, the kiwi PM sat on her couch and spoke of the $5 billion program and how it will help 380,000 kiwi families with childrearing expenses. To put things into perspective, New Zealand’s total population currently hovers around 4.89 million. Moreover, the program will also increase paid parental leave for new parents from 18 to 22 weeks.

 

 

 


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