“The decision was my own. Leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also the most challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges,” Ardern said at a meeting of members of her Labour Party.
“For me it’s time. I just don’t have enough in the tank for another four years,” she added.
There will be a vote in the coming days to decide on her replacement. New Zealand will hold a general election on October 14. Adern became prime minister in a coalition government in 2017 and led her center-left Labour Party to a comprehensive victory in an election three years later. She has seen her party and personal popularity decline in recent polls.
Adern said at the end of 2022, she took time to consider whether she had what it takes to continue as a prime minister, ultimately concluding it was time to step down.
She said “I am not leaving because it was hard. If that was the case, I probably would have departed two months in the job,” citing several challenges her government faced, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2019 Christchurch terror attack and the deadly volcanic eruption on Waiheke Island, also known as White Island.
The early announcement will help in planning and preparation by government agencies and political parties. Deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said he would not be putting his name forward. Adren said there was no secret behind her resignation.
Adern became prime minister at the age of 37. She was New Zealand’s third female leader and one of the youngest leaders in the world. Within a year, she had given birth in office – only the second world leader ever to do so. She was re-elected for a second term in 2020.