Jacinda Ardern has bid an emotional farewell on her last day as New Zealand's prime minister, expressing gratitude for the kindness and empathy shown to her by the nation.
She will step down on Wednesday, giving way to new Labour party leader, Chris Hipkins.
Ardern was surrounded by supporters seeking photographs at a gathering of politicians and Maori elders in Ratana.
While The Times reported that the researchers at Auckland University found that she was the main target of hateful or toxic posts, according to their study that tracked online attacks against prominent New Zealanders, she rejected suggestions that she had quit due to online abuse.
On her last day as New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern made a teary final address rejecting suggestions that online abuse forced her out of office.
She thanked the nation for its empathy and kindness in her speech to supporters at a Maori religious festival.
While Chris Wilson, a senior lecturer and head of the study at Auckland University, claimed that Ardern was the main target of toxic posts, Ardern said that "the overwhelming experience in this job has been one of love, empathy, and kindness.
" As she stepped down from her five-year period as the prime minister, she was clad in a traditional Maori feathered cloak.
Her teary farewell included expressions of greater love and affection for New Zealand's people when leaving than when she started in her role.
Jacinda Ardern's decision to step down from her position as prime minister was announced suddenly last week and shocked the world.
The event marks the unofficial start to the political year in New Zealand, with political party leaders converging on the North Island village of Ratana.
The occasion is in celebration of Māori prophet Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana, the founder of the Rātana faith.
Labour party leader Chris Hipkins will take up her position as the prime minister on Wednesday.
Ardern described her time as a minister, saying that it was "the greatest privilege of my life."
The news of Ardern's resignation comes as a surprise, leaving the Labour party with no time to prepare for a succession plan.
Hipkins has praised the former prime minister, stating that "Jacinda Ardern is one of this country's greatest leaders.
" Even as researchers pointed out that the former prime minister was a significant target of online abuse, Ardern emphasised the positivity of her time in office.
With her public farewell, she bids farewell to her role as prime minister and looks forward to becoming a sister and a mother.
- The Times
- The Guardian