Jacinda Ardern has ‘no regrets’ after stepping down as New Zealand’s prime minister

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will leave office on February 7  (Getty Images)
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will leave office on February 7 (Getty Images)

Jacinda Ardern said she has “no regrets” about stepping down as New Zealand’s prime minister after her shock resignation.

The leader said in the 24-hours following her announcement she has felt a “range of emotions” from sadness to a “sense of relief”.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Ms Ardern admitted she had “slept well for the first time in a long time”.

She denied that experiences of misogyny had played a role in her decision to step down, but said she had a “message for women in leadership and girls who are considering leadership in the future” that “you can have a family and be in these roles”.

Ms Ardern will step down by February 7 and Labour Party MPs will hold a leadership vote on Sunday. New Zealand will hold a general election on October 14.

Speculation about the prime minister’s next move has already begun.

At 42 years old, she has already accumulated 15 years experience as a lawmaker and five-and-a-half years as leader.

Ms Ardern said she was leaving the job because she no longer has “enough in the tank to do it justice” and has no immediate plans for her own future other than to spend more time with her fiancé and 4-year-old daughter.

Stephen Hoadley, an assistant professor of politics and international relations at the University of Auckland, said “by the end of this year, she’ll be off and running on a whole new career line.”

Mr Hoadley pointed to the career path of Helen Clark, another former New Zealand prime minister who went on to become a top administrator at the UN, leading the development program.

“Jacinda could be tapped by any number of United Nations, or charitable, or philanthropical, or other kinds of organisations,” Hoadley said.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who first met Ardern in about 2007 and has remained friends, said: “I think she could do pretty much whatever she wants from this point.”

“Jacinda is one of the most selfless, determined, publicly-minded people I have ever met,” Mr Shaw added. “So I would imagine that whatever it is, it will be in the public interest.”

Leadership hopefuls will gather on Sunday when the Labour party caucus meets to elect a new leader, who will become prime minister.

There are four frontronners; Immigration, Police and Transport Minister Chris Hipkins, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Minister of Justice Kiri Allan.

Ms Allan would become the first openly gay leader if elected.