Jacinda Ardern's message for NZ in final speech as PM

Tue, Jan 24

Jacinda Ardern says she leaves office with "a greater love and affection for Aotearoa and its people" than when she started.

Her brief speech at the Rātana celebrations today marks the end of her public profile as Labour leader and as New Zealand's prime minister.

Ardern will formally tender her resignation tomorrow. In her speech, she said a few words about "my friend Chippy" - her successor Chris Hipkins.

"You knew me as aunty, I hope you know him as Chippy - because it speaks to him as a person.

"Chippy - you're a colleague and a friend to us all. I know you will be a wonderful prime minister," she said while looking in Hipkins' direction.

When giving her "final departing thoughts", Ardern addressed speculation about the abuse she faced while in the job - and whether that contributed to her decision to leave.

"There's been a little bit of discussion since I made my announcement about my resignation.

“For my part, I want you to know that my overwhelming experience in this job - of New Zealand and New Zealanders, has been one of love, empathy and kindness.

Jacinda Ardern at Rātana alongside Chris Hipkins

"That is what the majority of New Zealand has shown to me," she said.

"I want you to know that I leave with a greater love and affection for Aotearoa New Zealand, and its people - than when I started. I didn't think that was possible."

Earlier, Ardern spoke to the media and said the public could expect her to stay out of the political arena after she resigned.

"You won't find me commentating on domestic politics - I've had my time, it's now for the new team," she said.

"I'm ready to be many things. I'm ready to be a backbench MP.

"I'm ready to be a sister and a mum."

The outgoing prime minister said she will still be out and about until April - when she would also step down as Mt Albert's electorate MP.

The annual Rātana celebrations are unofficially regarded as marking the beginning of a new political year.

For decades, politicians have descended on Rātana Pā, about 21 kilometres south of Whanganui, for the event - with celebrations this year returning after a Covid hiatus.

Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have attended this year - with the exception of ACT.

The event serves as a test for National leader Christopher Luxon and incoming Labour leader Chris Hipkins' relationship with Māoridom.

Hipkins will be sworn in as the 41st prime minister tomorrow.