Jacinda Ardern is Pacific Person of the Year
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is Fiji-based publication, Islands Business 2019 Pacific Person of the Year, the second person of non-Pacific heritage to ever be awarded the title.
“Just over two years since she took office, events in New Zealand and in her own personal life have catapulted her on to the global stage. One among a new wave of young leaders who were swept to power (Canada’s Trudeau, France’s Macron and Ireland’s Varadkar), Ardern’s positive image has been the most enduring,” the magazine says.
The magazine’s editor Samisoni Pareti said each year his publication attempted to look at the person, people or organisations that had made an impact on the Pacific, Radio New Zealand reports.
Pareti said Ardern, who the first New Zealand prime minister to visit Tokelau in 14 years, was given the 2019 title because of her work at the Pacific Islands Forum to bring consensus around the issue of climate change.
“It was Prime Minister Ardern’s skills at negotiation, diplomacy and her charisma … that saved the day for Pacific Island countries, Pacific Island leaders,” Pareti said.
“She got, particularly her counterpart across the Tasman Sea, Scott Morrison to come to a middle ground when it comes to a climate change position.”
Pareti said her handling of the Christchurch terror attacks was also commendable.
“That really drew our attention to Prime Minister Ardern and from then on we started watching how she performed, not only in parliament but in her dealings with crisis and her own electorate and country.”
Pareti said Ardern had been a breath of fresh air in terms of political leadership in the islands.
“She is a young person, she is a woman, she is a mother. She has got everything that I guess one would wish upon a Pacific Island leader.
“She listens, she is decisive, and she always tries to bring people together and is not too divisive,” he said.
Former Australian prime minister John Howard is the only other non-Pacific islander to receive the award.
Original article by Dev Nadkarni, Islands Business, December 26, 2019.
Photo by Mike Tsikas.