Jacinda Ardern becomes a dame as New Zealand honours former PM

05 Jun 2023 10:12am
Former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. - File photo by AFP
Former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. - File photo by AFP

WELLINGTON - Former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has received one of the country's highest accolades in the King's Birthday honours list on Monday, reported German news agency (dpa).

Ardern, who stepped down as prime minister in January, was appointed a Dame Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the state.

It is the second-highest available honour after the Order of New Zealand, which is limited to 20 living persons at any time.

Ardern, who has previously said she believes the country will become a republic within her lifetime, said she was in "two minds" about accepting the honour.

"So many of the things we went through as a nation over the last five years were about all of us rather than one individual," Ardern said in a statement.

"But I have heard that said by so many Kiwis who I have encouraged to accept an honour over the years. And so for me this a way to say thank you - to my family, to my colleagues, and to the people who supported me to take on the most challenging and rewarding role of my life."

Ardern was recognised for her service during some of the "greatest challenges our country has faced in modern times", Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

"Leading New Zealand's response to the 2019 terrorist attacks (in Christchurch) and to the COVID-19 pandemic represented periods of intense challenge for our 40th Prime Minister, during which time I saw first hand that her commitment to New Zealand remained absolute."

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The official citation also noted Ardern's focus on reduction of child poverty in New Zealand.

It also noted she was named top of Fortune Magazine's World's 50 Greatest Leaders in 2021. - BERNAMA