A guest post by Kishan Naran:
On October 20th, 2017, the day after Winston Peters sided with the Labour Party to form the 6th Labour-led government, Jacinda Ardern would have set out her strategy for the following three years.
I’d put my bottom dollar on the fact that she would not have planned for a mass-shooting, a major volcanic eruption and then a global health and economic crisis, all in the space of 12 months.
During a crisis, people look to a leader, and not only do we look to a leader, but we demand our leader to bestow us with the necessary means to fight a crisis. Nobody would argue with the way Ardern handled the March 15th shootings in Christchurch. Her communication, empathy and ability to put herself in the shoes of everyday New Zealander’s is beyond comparable.
She has displayed the same leadership during these dark times. Whenever New Zealanders are uncertain or afraid, Ardern has always made it her priority to address the nation with clarity and assurance. She stepped forward on behalf of the government and cushioned the economic blow of Covid-19 by fronting an estimated $9 billion in subsidies for workers. An unprecedented move.
Not only this, but around the world we have seen time and time again countries attempting to ‘flatten the curve’ or to contain the virus. Two weeks ago, our Prime Minister decided this was not good enough for New Zealanders. She put us into lock-down and now we are reaping the rewards other countries are only dreaming of.
Ardern decided to not simply contain the virus but eliminate it. The statistics speak volumes of Ardern’s success: having over 1000 cases, New Zealand is the only country with only five deaths. This is unequalled around the world.
Forward-thinking and ultimately the optimism and ambition shown by our Prime Minister reveals one blatant truth. Her absolute and unconditional will to ensure that New Zealand not only reaches the end of this crisis in a timely manner, but does it better than any other country from both a health and economic perspective. Although the real result of Ardern’s work will not be clear for number of weeks, the signs are showing that unified New Zealanders are destroying this virus.
History, as it always has, judges politicians based upon the decisions they make. But it also judges them on how they handle their duty. In New Zealand’s largest health crisis, Ardern has handled hers with integrity, transparency, and like no other leader around the world, with the upmost kindness.
Kishan Naran is a political scientist graduate from the University of Otago.