WELLINGTON, KOMPAS.com – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern experienced a monumental series of crises in the span of her three-year tenure.
A fresh-faced Ardern entered New Zealand politics promising “relentless positivity” unaware of the series of catastrophes that would test her mettle.
The New Zealand Prime Minister seemingly foreshadowed the need for positivity as she dealt from one crisis to another.
In a hectic first term, Jacinda Ardern dealt with New Zealand’s worst terror attack when a white supremacist carried out a bloody attack at the Christchurch Mosque.
She also faced a deadly volcanic eruption, the country’s deepest recession in over 30 years, and the shared global threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Within the first few years in office, Jacinda Ardern also became a mom and became the international standard-bearer for progressive politics in an era of right-wing populist strongmen.
She had been in office barely 18 months when a white supremacist gunman opened fire in two Christchurch mosques during Friday prayers, killing 51 and injuring another 40 on March 15 last year.
Ardern's deft and compassionate response to the gunman's rampage of hate defined her image around the world.
When she donned a headscarf and comforted victims' families after the shooting, it resonated globally. She would later describe it as a spontaneous gesture of respect to the Muslim community.
But she also won plaudits for decisive policy action, including swiftly enacted gun law reforms and a push to force social media giants to address online hate speech.
The New Zealand public will on October 17 have a chance to render their own view of the 40-year-old's performance, as she bids for another term in a general election.
Ardern's campaign pitch has focused heavily on her government's success in containing the coronavirus, with New Zealand recording only 25 deaths in a population of five million people.
She argues that only her center-left Labour Party can be trusted to keep New Zealanders safe with a combination of strict border controls and widespread Covid-19 testing.