Jacinda Ardern resignation: A look back at the PM's funniest and most meme-orable moments throughout her tenure

Unless you're currently on an intrepid journey through the wilderness without Wi-Fi or reception, you're probably aware that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not seeking re-election and will be standing down by February 7. 

The bombshell announcement was made during a press conference on Thursday afternoon, during which Ardern admitted she "no longer has enough in the tank" to continue with the role, which has seen her lead the country through a global pandemic, an economic crisis, a natural disaster and the terrorist attacks of March 15, 2019.

Since she was sworn in on October 26, 2017, Ardern has achieved many a milestone. On June 21, 2018, she became only the second elected leader in the world to give birth while in office and at 37, she became the world's youngest female head of Government, as well as Aotearoa's youngest Prime Minister in more than 150 years. In the October 2020 election, Ardern led the Labour Party to a landslide victory, gaining almost 50 percent of the vote and 65 out of 120 seats in the House of Representatives.

Over her five years in office, Ardern has also enjoyed many meme-orable moments, such as the time she was caught wearing the same dress as a reporter, or when her young daughter Neve interrupted an interview on live TV. She has been known to joke, jibe and jest her way through awkward situations, or throw a smile - sometimes through gritted teeth - during a high-pressure moment. Ardern has also never shied away from confrontation or a quick-witted roast, her sharp tongue cutting a journo or two in her time (let us never forget the mic-drop moment she shut down a sexist question with a stare and the perfect level of sass). 

With that being said, let's take a look at some of the most memorable and hilarious moments throughout Ardern's tenure. 

When she single-handedly shot down sexism in a mic-drop moment

When Newstalk ZB's Joey Dwyer asked Ardern and her Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, if they'd only met last November due to their similarities in age and because they were both women, Ardern made the kind of cool yet burningly caustic comeback I could only dream of during an imaginary argument in the shower.

"My first question is I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age," Ardern hit back. 

"We, of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics. It's reality. Because two women meet, it is not simply because of their gender."

Marin added that the pair were meeting "because we are Prime Ministers". Need some ice for that burn?


Let us not forget the moment Ardern reminded us that despite being an internationally loved and lauded politician who has led the nation through several disasters, she really is just like us: and couldn't resist calling ACT leader David Seymour an "arrogant prick" in Parliament.

The mesmerising moment occurred just after Ardern answered a question from Seymour about how she handles mistakes in her position of power. After answering, Ardern sat down as Speaker Adrian Rurawhe began to call the next question. However, Ardern's microphone remained live  - and she audibly muttered, "Such an arrogant prick." The two later made amends and managed to create some good after the gaffe, raising money for charity by auctioning a signed, framed transcript from the sitting. 

When she was caught wearing the same dress as a Newshub reporter

The Prime Minister and Newshub Europe correspondent Lisette Reymer were involved in a hilarious exchange last year after the pair realised they'd rocked up to a press conference wearing the same dress. Look, it happens to the best of us. 

As Ardern approached the podium, she broke into laughter as she spotted Reymer in the crowd of media.

"Nice dress," Ardern said. "We just won't talk about it… we need to confer for the rest of the trip," she joked.

Speaking to AM, Reymer quipped that she was wearing the dress first.

"She actually copied me today," Reymer said. "She obviously was feeling inspired, what can I say? I'm a trend-setter."

That weekend walk with security guards

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll probably remember that viral video of the Prime Minister enjoying a weekend outing in Wellington in September 2021. Two women had been sitting in their vehicle near the waterfront when their curiosity was piqued as a pair of burly men passed by, walking in front of a couple.

"So who are these security uncles out here looking after these two people?" one of them asked.

When the couple came closer into view, the two women immediately made the connection.

"Is that Jacinda?" one exclaimed. "It's Jacinda!"

"Aunty Cindy!" the women crowed as they cracked up laughing.

Mummy and the banana

Prime Ministers, they're just like us. During an at-home interview last May with AM, Ardern's then three-year-old daughter, Neve, stole the show when she adorably interrupted her mum as she discussed the Government's $562 million plan to tackle crime in Aotearoa.

"Mummy," Neve piped up in the background. 

Later, Ardern elaborated on Instagram: "Thought I had morning media round from isolation all sorted …. until Neve showed up mid-interview and chased me round the room with banana." I present to you, the joys of parenting.

The handshake that gripped the world

A video of a violent handshake between Ardern and her then British counterpart, Boris Johnson, that went viral last year had the internet in a chokehold. As Johnson welcomed Ardern outside his Downing St residence for the official photocall, the symbolic greeting between the two leaders instead became a symbol of Why So Many People Find Handshakes Incredibly Awkward ™. The energetic shake lasted multiple seconds and was coupled by Johnson appearing to pull Ardern towards him. It was very strange and uncomfortable viewing. 

When Ardern pointed at Mark Richardson

During an interview with then AM host Duncan Garner in August 2017, Ardern traded shots with former sports presenter Mark Richardson, who argued employers - and in Ardern's case, the New Zealand public - should be informed whether employees or those in leadership roles plan on having children, due to the nature of maternity leave.

When she appeared at the desk for her interview, Ardern addressed Richardson directly - with a point of a finger that sent a collective shiver down the nation's spine.

"But, you," she said, pointing at Richardson. "For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace. That is unacceptable in 2017. It is the woman's decision about when they choose to have children.

"It should not predetermine whether or not they get the job."

When Ardern laughed at Mark Richardson

Appearing on AM for an interview in 2021, Ardern couldn't hold back her laughter - and a few tears of joy - when the infamous clip of former Blackcap Richardson cramping up during a test match was played ahead of her segment.

An amused Ardern could barely stifle her giggles as the clip of Richardson screaming in pain and dramatically falling to the ground played out in the studio. She later apologised to the sports reader for her chuckles, but couldn't help but barb him a little bit more.

"I'm going to put [the video] on in the car," Ardern added. "It was actually quite elegant… it was a full pirouette."

When Ardern demonstrated the East Coast wave

While announcing tough new border restrictions during a COVID-19 briefing in March 2020, Ardern requested the public to swap out "handshakes, hugs, and hongi" with a phenomenon known as the "East Coast wave", which she demonstrated to the media - twice - with aplomb. Let's just say, it was one of those moments that could only happen here in Aotearoa. 

Ardern's annual birthday cake posts (and a jar of lentils)

In an annual series that captured the attention of the nation, Ardern made a habit of sharing her daughter's yearly birthday cakes with a short anecdote explaining the inspiration behind each creation.

Last year, it was a ladybug-shaped confection - or a "stress bomb", as Ardern called it. In 2021, it was dad Clarke Gayford's turn, dishing up a TV-shaped treat that displayed a projection of  Neve's three favourite Disney films - Moana, Frozen and Mickey Mouse - in a bid to fulfil her ever-changing birthday cake brief. And in 2020, the cake was a very structurally ambiguous piano, propped up with a jar of lentils.

"Cake making lesson number two - don't focus on making the cake look in proportion with little to no attention on structural integrity," she said.

"There is a jar of lentils propping this thing up. Happy Birthday Neve! Thanks for ignoring all of the imperfections in life and just being a joy."