New Zealand honoured former prime minister Jacinda Ardern with the title of dame on Monday, citing her leadership after the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ardern, 42, shocked New Zealand in January when she announced she was stepping down as prime minister and retiring from politics, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank”.
Her successor, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, said Ardern had been named a dame in the King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours List.
King Charles III, who was ceremonially crowned on May 6, is also head of state in New Zealand.
“Having served as prime minister from 2017 to 2023, Dame Jacinda Ardern is recognised for her service to New Zealand during some of the greatest challenges our country has faced in modern times,” Hipkins said.
“Leading New Zealand’s response to the 2019 terrorist attacks 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.”
Ardern said she had been in “two minds” about accepting the honour because so much of her work was a “collective experience” of all New Zealanders.
First elected as prime minister in 2017, Ardern won international acclaim for her empathetic handling of the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, in which 51 Muslim worshippers were killed and another 40 wounded.
She rode a wave of “Jacindamania” to win a second term in 2020 but her centre-left government struggled in its final months as it battled soaring inflation and a housing affordability crisis.