Clarke Gayford pays touching tribute to partner and former PM Jacinda Ardern

Clarke Gayford has paid a touching tribute to his partner Jacinda Ardern after she officially resigned as Prime Minister.  

Ardern tended her resignation to the Governor-General on Wednesday, but made the shock announcement she was going to quit the top job last week. 

Most people thought Ardern was going to announce the date of the next election - which she did and it's on October 14 - as she held a press conference at the Labour Party caucus last week. 

But she delivered much more.  

She said over the summer break she had looked hard at whether she had enough left in the tank to lead the party through another election.  

"Being Prime Minister has been the greatest honour of my life and I want to thank New Zealanders for the enormous privilege of leading the country for the last five and a half years," Ardern said.

"With holding such a privileged role comes responsibility, including the responsibility to know when you're the right person to lead, and also when you're not.  

"I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. 

"You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along. 

"Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It's that simple." 

Ardern also said she was looking forward to taking their daughter Neve to school and finally being able to get married to Gayford, something they had postponed in the past. 

Gayford, New Zealand's first man, was often seen by her side during her days in office. He posted a touching tribute on Instagram. 

He said he had witnessed the most "incredible outpouring of thanks and respect I've witnessed first-hand over the last few days, from spontaneous tears of strangers in airports, to correspondence staff talking about unprecedented inboxes full of overwhelmingly positive messages."

He also paid tribute to Ardern's empathy, which the country saw in her handling of the Christchurch terror attack and the Whakaari / White Island eruption.  

She also led the country's response to COVID-19 where she was widely praised for putting saving lives at the top of the agenda. 

"There is a saying that nothing is harder than having true empathy for others, because empathy requires you to understand life from someone else's perspective, to suspend your own ego, to walk in different shoes and see through another's eyes," Gayford said. 

And he ended the statement by paying tribute to his partner and mother to their four-year-old daughter Neve. 

"I'm still not sure how I managed to hitch a front-row seat in all of this but I remain as always; in awe, in love, relieved, exhausted and so incredibly proud of Neve's mum's superhuman efforts."