New Zealand PM Ardern says she will step down

STORY: "I know what this job takes and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.”

It was a shock moment when a visibly emotional Jacinda Ardern took to the stage on Thursday to announce her plans to step down as New Zealand’s Prime Minister.

Holding back tears, Ardern said she was not stepping down because the job was hard, but because she believed others could do a better job.

A vote to elect the next Labour leader will be held on Sunday, with a general election scheduled for the 14th of October.

A vote, Ardern believes, the Labour Party will win.

“And so today I am announcing I will not be seeking re-election and that my term as prime minister will conclude no later than the 7th of February.”

Ardern's initial election made a big splash on the global stage because of her gender and youth, coining the phrase "Jacinda-mania".

The charismatic 42-year-old won international praise and admiration for her responses to the mass shooting by a white supremacist in Christchurch, a fatal volcanic eruption and her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One analyst said Ardern's announcement was a huge surprise as polls, though not quite the stratospheric heights seen during the 2020 election, still ranked her as the country’s preferred prime minister.

They added that there was no clear successor.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who also serves as finance minister, said in a statement he would not seek to stand as the next Labour leader.

Ardern said she made a point of telling her daughter Neve, who she gave birth to during her time in office, that she was looking forward to being there when she started school this year, and told her longtime partner Clarke Gayford that it was time they married.

“I had the support of my family to continue. This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life, but it has also had its challenges. I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can and then it’s time. And for me it’s time.”