Popular US comedian Stephen Colbert has appeared at a conference of world leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to lighten the mood at the request of good friend Jacinda Ardern.
The New Zealand Prime Minister, 41, appeared on Colbert’s The Late Show back in 2018, with the host frequently mentioning his love of the ‘land of the long white cloud’.
Colbert appeared by video hook-up at this week’s 2021 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit hosted by Ms Ardern online, and also attended by Australian PM Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
‘I’m a big fan of this beautiful country at the bottom of the Pacific,’ Colbert said in his speech.
He then continued on peppering New Zealand slang into his monologue which was accompanied by subtitles underneath.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern addressing the APEC Summit this week (pictured)
‘I was stoked (thrilled) when Jacinda, the head sheila (prime minister), called me on the blower (phone),’ he said.
‘I thought: sweet as (great). That would be pretty choice (excellent). Then nek minnit (next minute), here I am.’
In 2019, Colbert, a ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan went to New Zealand to film a series of adventures for his show which included a barbecue with singer Lorde and a carpool karaoke catchup with Ms Ardern.
Ms Ardern used her address to speak about climate change and hail New Zealand’s newly established Free Trade Agreement with the UK.
While Colbert might have helped her win over her fellow world leaders, back home her popularity appears to be wavering.
US comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert also lightened up the mood (pictured) after an invite to speak from Ms Ardern
The prime minister and her governing Labour Party are suffering a major popularity dip in two new polls.
The polls – privately conducted by Labour’s pollster Talbot Mills, and Curia, a pollster used by the opposition National Party – were reported by the NZ Herald and Stuff on Thursday.
NEW ZEALAND POLL RESULTS
CURIA – PREFERRED PARTY
Labour – 39 per cent (down 5)
National – 26 (up 4)
ACT – 16 (down 1)
Greens – 9 (up 2)
CURIA – PREFERRED PM
Jacinda Ardern – 34 per cent (down 13)
David Seymour – 11 per cent (down 2)
Judith Collins – 6 per cent (up 1)
TALBOT MILLS – PREFERRED PARTY
Labour – 41 (down 5)
National – 24 (up 2)
ACT – 17 (up 1)
Greens – 9 (up 2)
TALBOT MILLS – PREFERRED PM
Jacinda Ardern 47 (down 4)
David Seymour – 15
Judith Collins – 10
Both showed a slip to Ms Ardern’s personal popularity – including a 13 per cent plunge in the Curia numbers – and a loss of five per cent for Labour.
Labour remains in an election-winning position – polling 41 per cent according to Talbot Mills, and 39 per cent in Curia’s figures – but the drop is notable.
It collected 50 per cent of the party vote in the 2020 election, winning a majority in parliament.
On this week’s figures, Labour would need the support of government partners the Greens, at nine per cent in both polls, for a parliamentary majority.
The government and opposition both believe the ongoing battle with COVID-19, which has kept Auckland locked down for three months, is eating away at Labour’s popularity.
‘At the moment it’s tough going out there,’ COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said.
‘We’re dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 and there’s certainly a degree of COVID fatigue in the community.’
Opposition COVID-19 spokesman Chris Bishop said Kiwis believed Ms Ardern’s government had dropped the ball.
‘There is an increasing recognition that when it comes to COVID, the government did a good job in 2020 but they have not done a good job in 2021,’ he said.
‘We entered 2021 with one of, if not the world’s best COVID responses. We had freedoms that many other people around the world did not have.
‘The government spent most of this year rolling out the developed world’s slowest vaccine rollout, Auckland has entered week 13 of lockdown, and there is a huge palpable frustration in the community at the squandered opportunity of this year.’
Ms Ardern was a guest on the Colbert hosted The Late Show in 2018 and he has regularly said he has a keen interest in New Zealand culture
Despite Labour’s drop, National still has much ground to make up to contend for government.
It polled 26 and 24 per cent, historically poor results for the centre-right party of John Key and Bill English.
Leader Judith Collins remains desperately unliked, polling at just six and 10 per cent in the preferred PM stakes.
Mr Bishop admitted National ‘had a long way to go’, but ‘the numbers are heading in the right direction’.
At 34 and 47 per cent, Ms Ardern is the nation’s clear top choice for PM, with ACT leader David Seymour preferred over Ms Collins.