Jacinda Ardern resigns: Sam Neill defends NZ PM against ‘nutbags’

Kiwi actor Sam Neill defends Jacinda Ardern against ‘pile-on from misogynists and nutbags’ after she resigned following criticism of her country’s ultra-strict Covid policy

Kiwi actor Sam Neill has passionately defended Jacinda Ardern hours after she resigned as Prime Minster of New Zealand.

The 42-year-old, her country’s youngest-ever leader, shocked the nation and the world on Thursday when she announced she was stepping down, admitting she ‘no longer has enough in the tank’ to do the job.

Taking to Instagram after the news broke, the Jurassic Park actor, 75, said he ‘does not blame’ Ardern for calling it quits, adding that New Zealand ‘deserves a worse leader’ for the way its citizens treated her during her time in office.

Kiwi actor Sam Neill (pictured in Spain on October 11, 2019) has passionately defended Jacinda Ardern hours after she resigned as Prime Minster of New Zealand

Kiwi actor Sam Neill (pictured in Spain on October 11, 2019) has passionately defended Jacinda Ardern hours after she resigned as Prime Minster of New Zealand 

‘Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigned today. I am not surprised, nor do I blame her,’ he wrote.

‘The treatment she has been receiving these last few months, the appalling pile-on by the left, the right, the aggrieved, the whiners, the nutbags, the know-it-alls, the misogynists etc. has been both disgraceful and embarrassing. 

‘I think she was a great leader through the most difficult times.  She deserved better. And we will get what we deserve: inferior leadership.

‘I personally will miss her. And thank her. And wish her a far happier future.’ 

The 42-year-old, her country's youngest-ever leader, shocked the nation and the world on Thursday when she announced she was stepping down

The 42-year-old, her country’s youngest-ever leader, shocked the nation and the world on Thursday when she announced she was stepping down

The Event Horizon star has been a long-term supporter of Ardern, previously saying the whole world wants a prime minster like her.

‘So much admiration for my PM. Everywhere you go these days, people say they wish they could have a leader like her. PM envy – it’s a thing,’ he said in 2019. 

Ardern’s resignation will come into effect on Sunday if the Labour Party can elect her replacement in a vote on that day, or on February 7 if the process is drawn out.

Ms Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford pose with their baby daughter Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford outside the hospital in Auckland on June 28, 2018

Ms Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford pose with their baby daughter Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford outside the hospital in Auckland on June 28, 2018

Ms Ardern said she had hoped to find the energy and heart during the Christmas break to stay in the job, ‘but I have not been able to do that’.

‘Once I realised that I didn’t, I knew unfortunately there was not much alternative other than to hand over now,’ she said at the Labour Party’s traditional January caucus meeting in Napier on Thursday.

‘I am human. Politicians are human. We give all we can for as long as we can – and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.

The Jurassic Park actor, 75, said he 'does not blame' Ardern for calling it quits, adding that New Zealand 'deserves a worse leader' for the way its citizens treated her during her time in office

The Jurassic Park actor, 75, said he ‘does not blame’ Ardern for calling it quits, adding that New Zealand ‘deserves a worse leader’ for the way its citizens treated her during her time in office 

‘I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.

‘I am leaving because with such a privileged job comes a big responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead – and also when you’re not.

‘I have given my absolute all to being prime minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.

Ms Ardern imposed some of the world's harshest Covid restrictions and only allowed visitors to enter less than a year ago

Ms Ardern imposed some of the world’s harshest Covid restrictions and only allowed visitors to enter less than a year ago

‘Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.’

Ms Ardern resigns at just 42 after becoming leader just over five years ago on October 26, 2017, and was New Zealand’s youngest-ever PM, and before that youngest sitting MP in 2008, aged 28.

Ms Ardern faced unrelenting criticism for implementing some of the harshest Covid restrictions in the world, including lockdowns where New Zealanders couldn’t even buy takeaway food and a more-than-two-year border closure.

But she denied the constant attacks, which continued last year as the economy faltered and cost of living rose, played a role in her decision.

Ms Ardern unveils Covid alert levels, which led to some of the world's hardest restrictions, as she closed the country's borders on March 21, 2020

Ms Ardern unveils Covid alert levels, which led to some of the world’s hardest restrictions, as she closed the country’s borders on March 21, 2020

‘I’m not leaving because it’s hard… I know when I have enough left in the tank to do it justice. I would be doing a disservice to New Zealanders to continue,’ she said.

The resigning PM was asked if she would take up a role with the UN after leaving office and didn’t give a straight answer.

‘This has been my entire focus as you can see by the fact you’ve not been aware of this [my resignation], so that [the UN] has not been my focus,’ she said. 

‘My focus has been this decision, supporting the Labor team through this next stage.’ 

Instead, she insisted she had ‘no plans’ other than relaxing with her daughter Neve and marrying her fiancé Clarke Gayford after their wedding was called off due to Covid restrictions.

‘I am looking forward to spending time with my family once again… so to Neve, mumma is looking forward to being there when you start school this year, and to Clarke, let’s finally get married,’ she said.

Ms Ardern said she had not yet told her daughter of her plans because ‘four-year-olds are chatty, I couldn’t take the risk’.

Jacinda Ardern resignation speech

‘Being Prime Minister has been the greatest honour of my life and I want to thank New Zealanders for the enormous privilege of leading the country for the last five and a half years.

‘With holding such a privileged role comes responsibility, including the responsibility to know when you’re the right person to lead, and also when you’re not.

‘I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.

‘Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.

‘I have spoken to the Governor-General this morning to let her know.

‘In addition to our ambitious agenda that has sought to address long term issues like the housing crisis, child poverty and climate change, we also had to respond to a major biosecurity incursion, a domestic terror attack, a volcanic eruption and a one in one hundred year global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. The decisions that had to be made have been constant and weighty.

‘I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved over the last five years in spite of the many challenges thrown at us. We’ve turned around child poverty statistics and made the most significant increases in welfare support and public housing stock seen in many decades.

‘We’ve made it easier to access education and training while improving the pay and conditions of workers. And we’ve worked hard to make progress on issues around our national identify – I believe that teaching our history in schools and celebrating Matariki as our own indigenous national holiday will all make a difference for years to come.

‘And we’ve done that while responding to some of the biggest threats to the health and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders, arguably since World War Two.

‘The Labour team are incredibly well placed to contest the next election. They are the most experienced team in the country and have shown they have the skills necessary to respond to whatever comes their way.

‘I’m not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe Labour can and will win it. We need a fresh set of shoulders for the challenges of both this year and the next three.

‘As to my time in the job, I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go.’

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