Thinking Citizen Blog —Inspiring Young Leaders of the World (Part I): Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day

Today’s Topic: Inspiring Young Leaders of the World (Part I): Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Recently, I have featured posts about local and state politics. This week a change of tack triggered by an article announcing that Jacinda Ardern would be Harvard’s Commencement speaker this year. I had never heard of her (or if I did, I had forgotten her name). Time to do some research and write a post. In fact, how about a series on new, young leaders that might give me and my readers a little bit of dopamine in these somewhat depressing times? Well, here we go. But first, two little highlights to whet your appetite. In 2017, at age 37, she became the youngest woman in the world ever to become a head of government. In 2018 she became “the world’s second elected head of government to give birth while in office (after Benazir Bhutto).” Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

HER PARENTS, DEGREES, JOBS, AND HOW SHE MADE NEW ZELAND HISTORY — the third woman and youngest Prime Minister in 150 years

1. “From climate change and gender equality to COVID-19, she has modeled compassionate leadership that has brought together empathy and science-based solutions to address the most challenging issues of our time. I very much look forward to her address.” (Harvard President Bacow)

2. “Born in Hamilton, New Zealand, to a police officer and a school cafeteria worker, Ardern graduated from Waikato University in 2001 with a degree in professional communications and international relations.” (Gazette)

3. “She pursued a career in politics, working for New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark before moving to the U.K. to serve as a senior policy adviser in the office of Prime Minister Tony Blair.”

NB: “Ardern joined New Zealand’s Parliament as a member of the Labour Party in 2008. At that time she was the youngest member of Parliament. After almost a decade of service, she was elected to lead the Labour Party in 2017. Ardern became Prime Minister later the same year. She is the third woman to govern the country, and the youngest person to hold the office in more than 150 years.”


1. 2008: at age 28, elected President of the International Union of Socialist Youth. This was an organization set up in 1908 that was part of the Second International of socialist and labor parties that dated back to 1889.(See third and fourth links below for further details.)

2. “First elected as an MP in the 2008 general election when Labour lost power after nine years. She was later elected to represent the Mount Albert electorate in a by-election on 25 February 2017.”

3. “Ardern was unanimously elected as deputy leader of the Labour Party on 1 March 2017, after the resignation of Annette King. Exactly five months later with an election due, Labour’s leader Andrew Little resigned after a historically low opinion poll result for the party, with Ardern elected unopposed as leader in his place.”

NB: “Labour’s supported increased rapidly after Ardern became leader, and she led her party to gain 14 seats at the 2017 general election on 23 September, winning 46 seats to the National Party’s 56. After negotiations, New Zealand First chose to enter a minority coalition government with Labour supported by the Green Party with Ardern as prime minister.”


1. “Ardern describes herself as a social democrat and a progressive.”

2. “The Sixth Labour Government has focused on the New Zealand housing crisis, child poverty, and social inequality.”

3. “In March 2019, in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings, Ardern rapidly introduced strict gun laws, and throughout 202 she directed New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

NB: Ardern led the Labour Party to victory in the 2020 election, gaining an overall majority of 65 seats in Parliament, the first time this has happened since the introduction of proportional representation in 1996.” (see second link)

FOOTNOTE — Her daughter’s name: Neve Te Aroha

1. Neve — from the Irish “Niamh” (bright)

2. Aroha — Maori for (“love”)

3. Te Aroha — a rural town in the Kalmal range near where Ardern grew up. See photo below.

NB Is the image of dawn or dusk? Is Jacinda Ardern and “jacindamania” past its peak? or is it just beginning?

ADDENDUM — A super cool map telling the story how and when the Maori got to New Zealand

FINAL ADDENUM — a personal link to New Zealand

1. My favorite song from New Zealand is “Po Kare Kare Anna” — a Maori love song.

2. If ever I meet someone from New Zealand, I sing it to them.

3. It was most famously sung by the New Zealand parliament on the passage of the gay marriage bill in 2013. See the final (seventh) link below.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern 2021 end-of-year interview | RNZ

Jacinda Ardern — Wikipedia

New Zealand — Wikipedia

International Union of Socialist Youth — Wikipedia

Second International — Wikipedia

New Zealand parliament breaks into song after legalising gay marriage — video


#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20


PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to political process or campaign strategy or 2020 candidate selection or anything else for that matter.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day or change their thinking. Or to consolidate in your own memory something worth remembering that might otherwise be lost. Or to clarify or deepen your own understanding of something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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