STORY: Days after stunning the world by announcing she had "no more in the tank" to lead the country and would step down, the 42-year-old arrived at an annual gathering of politicians and Maori elders in the small town of Ratana, north of the capital Wellington, and spoke of the kindness and empathy New Zealanders have shown her.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the greatest privilege of my life," Ardern told the gathering in a speech.
The left-leaning global icon gained attention for bringing her baby to a United Nations meeting and wearing a hijab after a massacre targeting Muslims. Although she became a target for hate and online abuse by right-wing extremists on social media, she said she was leaving the job with love in her heart.
Ardern will resign on Wednesday (January 25) and be replaced by the new Labour party leader, Chris Hipkins.