'First Bloke out' - Clarke Gayford pays tribute to Jacinda Ardern

Wed, Jan 25
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern embraces partner Clarke Gayford after she announces her resignation

'First Bloke' Clarke Gayford has paid tribute to Jacinda Ardern's "superhuman efforts" following her final day as the country's prime minister.

Ardern announced her resignation as prime minister and Labour leader last Thursday after five and a half years in the top job.

She said there was no "real reason" behind her decision to resign, only that she was "human".

Chris Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand's 41st Prime Minister in Parliament today after being named the sole nominee for the position. Carmel Sepuloni was named as his deputy.

In a heartfelt message posted to social media this afternoon, Gayford reflected on his fiancee's legacy of empathy and kindness following her time in the halls of power.

"In the last few days, I heard words of a respected Māori elder reflecting on the acknowledgment we should be having at the progress NZ had collectively made in the last few years towards a more inclusive society," he wrote.

"When asked how they saw that given some of the discourse we've seen in ugly places online and via a certain type of public commentator, their response was simply: 'When you pull the plug on the bath, it's always the last dregs that are the noisiest'."

He continued: "His comments sit in a sea of the most incredible outpouring of thanks and respect I've witnessed first-hand over the last few days, from spontaneous tears of strangers in airports, to correspondence staff talking about unprecedented inboxes full of overwhelmingly positive messages.

"There is a saying that nothing is harder than having true empathy for others, because empathy requires you to understand life from someone else's perspective, to suspend your own ego, to walk in different shoes and see through another's eyes."

He said he also learned that "while it might be easier to take the sugar hit path of popularity through division and hate and avoiding unpopular but necessary decisions, there is a better much tougher way of governing in empathy that plants many quiet trees for us all to enjoy the shade of for lots of good years to come".

"I'm still not sure how I managed to hitch a front row seat in all of this but I remain as always; in awe, in love, relieved, exhausted and so incredibly proud of Neve's mum's superhuman efforts.

"First Bloke out."