Come Back, Jacinda

Lynette Dufton
2 min readJan 19


Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” The people of New Zealand may be joining in that chorus soon.

Their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she will step down from that office this year. A powerful politician voluntarily leaving office without a scandal or a prison sentence? This cannot be. Jacinda is only 42 years old, but feels that she has “no more gas left in the tank” for the rigors of an upcoming election. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are nearly twice Jacinda’s age and they are running again. Does America have fewer political problems than New Zealand?

Actually, Jacinda successfully addressed some serious problems in Kiwi Country:

1. In March 2019, a gunman killed more than 50 people and injured dozens in attacks at two mosques in the southern city of Christchurch. A day after the attacks, Jacinda wore a hijab as she visited the country’s refugee and Muslim community, tearfully telling them that the whole country was “united in grief.” She refused to speak the name of the attacker, who live-streamed the slaughter on Facebook. “I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless,” she told Parliament at the time.

That is how a leader responds to tragedy. “There were good people on both sides” after Charlottesville is NOT.

2. Words must be followed by action. Ardern spearheaded legislation to ban military-style rifles just six days after the attack. AND IT PASSED. Tens of thousands of weapons and hundreds of thousands of illegal gun parts were surrendered during an amnesty and buyback program. New Zealand is definitely not America.

3. Further proving that New Zealand is not America, Ardern formed the most diverse government in New Zealand’s history, with more women, people of color, LGBTQ and Indigenous members of Parliament than ever . Last year, New Zealand became the first advanced industrialized democracy to have a majority-female legislature. Meanwhile, the country founded on the precept that “All men are created equal” still struggles with its Congress and courts reflecting the diversity of its populace.

4. How did the Kiwis fare against COVID? Ardern shut down the country and rolled out vaccines as quickly as possible in March, 2020. As a result, with about 5 million people, New Zealand recorded fewer than 2,500 COVID fatalities, the lowest death rate in the industrialized western world. New Zealand is kind of like America (or Canada at least) though. Emulating Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” protests, tractor-trailers clogged NZ highways demanding that restrictions be lifted last year Ardern did not “give an inch” until COVID infections were minimized.

Kiwis, you will never have a better leader than Jacinda Ardern. Cherish the memory.

By Ed Dufton



Lynette Dufton

These posts are written by my father, Ed Dufton, who has an incredible knack of condensing the day’s news into a witty and insightful commentary on society.