Former PM Ardern made a dame in New Zealand honours list

FormerPrime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern (John Sibley/PA)
FormerPrime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern (John Sibley/PA) FormerPrime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern (John Sibley/PA)

Former prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been made a dame as part of the King’s Birthday Honours in New Zealand.

The 42-year-old, who stepped down as leader in January after five years in the role, has been made a Dame Grand Companion in the honours list.

She said she was in two minds about whether to accept the award because much of what she was being recognised for were collective experiences for all New Zealanders.

“For me this is about my family, my colleagues and all those who supported me to do that incredibly rewarding job,” she told 1News.

Royal visit to New Zealand – Day Three
Royal visit to New Zealand – Day Three Former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern meets the then Prince of Wales on a royal visit to New Zealand (Victoria Jones/PA)

Her successor Chris Hipkins said she was being recognised for her service during “some of the greatest challenges our country has faced in modern times”.

“Leading New Zealand’s response to the 2019 terrorist attacks and to the Covid-19 pandemic represented periods of intense challenge for our 40th prime minister, during which time I saw firsthand that her commitment to New Zealand remained absolute,” he said in a statement.

Fifty-one Muslim worshippers were killed during Friday prayers in the 2019 attack at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist gunman.

Within weeks of the attack, Ms Ardern led major changes to New Zealand’s gun laws by banning assault weapons. More than 50,000 guns were handed over to police during a subsequent buyback scheme.

Having stepped down because she no longer had “enough in the tank”, she will join Harvard University later this year where she was appointed to dual fellowships, as well as taking on an unpaid role in the fight against online extremism.

In keeping with tradition, Queen Camilla has been appointed to the Order of New Zealand as part of the honours which were announced on Monday – a public holiday in New Zealand to mark the King’s official birthday.

And rugby coach Wayne Smith, who helped lead both men’s and women’s New Zealand rugby teams to World Cup victories, has been knighted.