WELLINGTON, New Zealand~ For her assistance in steering the nation through a mass tragedy and epidemic, former prime minister Jacinda Ardern was presented with one of New Zealand’s highest awards on Monday. As part of King Charles III’s Birthday Honors, Ardern received the second-highest accolade in New Zealand, the Dame Grand Companion. Consequently, she will now be referred to as Dame Jacinda. In New Zealand, royal awardees are normally chosen twice a year by the prime minister and approved by Charles, the British king who is also acknowledged as the king of New Zealand.
Ardern, who took office as prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37, was hailed as a left-wing icon on a global scale. When she unexpectedly announced in January that she was stepping down as leader after more she had not had “enough in the tank” to do it justice for more than five years. Her handling of COVID-19, which was initially praised but later condemned by people opposed to mandates and restrictions, was one of the growing political challenges she was experiencing at home.
Ardern’s successor as prime minister, Chris Hipkins, said that she was honored for her contributions amid “some of the greatest challenges our country has faced in modern times.” Hipkins stated in a statement that while leading New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2019 terrorist attacks provided periods of extreme hardship for our 40th prime minister, “during that time I saw firsthand that her commitment to New Zealand remained absolute.”
During Friday prayers in 2019, a white supremacist shooter attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 Muslim worshipers. After the incident, Ardern oversaw significant modifications to New Zealand’s gun regulations including outlawing assault rifles. During an ensuing buyback program, police received more than 50,000 firearms. Ardern claimed that she was torn between accepting the honor and declining it because many of the experiences for which she was being honored were shared by all New Zealanders.
Therefore, she told 1News, “for me, this is about my family, my coworkers, and all those who encouraged me to accomplish that tremendously wonderful job. Ardern has been appointed to dual fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School and will thereafter temporarily attend Harvard University later this year. Additionally, she has taken on an unpaid position tackling internet extremism.
Rugby coach Wayne Smith, who aided New Zealand’s men’s and women’s rugby teams in winning the World Cup, was also honored on the King’s Birthday Honors list. Following custom, Queen Camilla of the United Kingdom was named to the Order of New Zealand, which is the highest honor.
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