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Jacinda Ardern makes final address as prime minister before Chris Hipkins replaces New Zealand PM

Jacinda Ardern has donned a traditional Maori outfit as she delivered an emotional final address as New Zealand’s prime minister.

Ms Ardern said on Tuesday she was ‘ready to be a sister and a mum’ as she prepares to step down from her role as leader of the country.

She described her successor Chris Hipkins as a ‘personable, down to earth and practical’ man and encouraged Kiwis to call him by his endearing nickname. 

‘You know me as “Aunty”, I hope you know him as “Chippy” (his nickname in parliament). He is personable, down to earth and practical with tools,’ she said.

Jacinda Ardern has donned a traditional Maori outfit as she delivered an emotional final address as prime minister

Ms Ardern said on Tuesday she was 'ready to be a sister and a mum' as she prepared to step down from her role as leader of the country

Ms Ardern said on Tuesday she was ‘ready to be a sister and a mum’ as she prepared to step down from her role as leader of the country

Ms Ardern will head to government house on Wednesday morning to resign her commission, with Mr Hipkins to be sworn in as prime minister soon after.

The pair spent Tuesday together, travelling to Ratana Pa for Ms Ardern’s final public event as New Zealand’s leader.

The meeting place was particularly poignant for the outgoing prime minister as it was the same location she announced her pregnancy four years ago.

Ms Ardern said Kiwis would still see her around, but not in public debates.

‘You won’t find me commentating on domestic politics. I’ve had my time,’ she said.

‘I’m ready to be lots of things. I’m ready to be a backbench MP. I’m ready to be a sister and a mum.’

Ms Ardern surprised Kiwis and much of her party last Thursday when she announced her resignation at Labour’s year-starting retreat in Napier.

She described her successor Chris Hipkins as 'personable, down to earth and practical' man and encouraged residents to call him by his endearing nickname

She described her successor Chris Hipkins as ‘personable, down to earth and practical’ man and encouraged residents to call him by his endearing nickname

The meeting place was particularly poignant for the outgoing prime minister as it was the same location she announced her pregnancy four years ago

The meeting place was particularly poignant for the outgoing prime minister as it was the same location she announced her pregnancy four years ago

After Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson declined to run for the Labour leadership, the party swiftly backed in Mr Hipkins, the only nominee in a leadership ballot which closed on Saturday.

It has since emerged that Ms Ardern warned close colleagues, including Mr Robertson and Mr Hipkins, around Christmas last year she was exhausted and would spend the summer considering a shock exit.

Mr Hipkins said he learnt of Ms Ardern’s final decision shortly before she announced it last week.

Ms Ardern will head to the backbench for three months, resigning her seat in April ahead of an October 14 election.

The 42-year-old’s departure also sparked speculation she was leaving due to the weight of abuse and threats towards her office, something Ms Ardern denies.

‘I would hate for anyone to view my departure as a negative commentary on New Zealand,’ she said.

‘I’ve experienced such love, compassion, empathy and kindness when I’ve been in this job.

‘That has been my predominant experience. I leave feeling gratitude for having this wonderful role.’

Ms Ardern surprised Kiwis and much of her party last Thursday when she announced her resignation at Labour's year-starting retreat in Napier

Ms Ardern surprised Kiwis and much of her party last Thursday when she announced her resignation at Labour’s year-starting retreat in Napier

Mr Hipkins declined to share any advice Ms Ardern offered him during their van trip from Wellington together.

Ms Ardern said there was one cut-through message.

‘You do you,’ she said, encouraging Mr Hipkins to walk his own path.

‘It’s for him to carve out his own space, be his own kind of leader… this is now for him.’

The annual mission to Ratana Pa, a town in the Whanganui region, is a unique part of the New Zealand calendar.

Politicians are invited to address leaders of the Ratana Church, a Maori branch of Christianity, during the three-day festivities each year.

The church has ties to Labour dating back to a pact with Michael Joseph Savage, the party’s first prime minister.

Leaders applauded and sang praises for Ms Ardern during a powhiri, or welcoming ceremony, rich with pageantry and Maori waiata, or song.

Ms Ardern closed proceedings with a short speech of thanks.

‘I leave with a greater love and affection for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand than when I started. And I didn’t think that was possible,’ she said.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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