Jacinda Ardern tells former Barack Obama adviser she's 'uncomfortable' about international attention, has no plans for after Prime Minister

In an interview with a CNN contributor and former Barack Obama senior adviser, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she feels "uncomfortable" hearing about the international praise heaped on her and has no plans for what to do after she leaves her current role.

Speaking on The Axe Files, hosted by David Axelrod, a former adviser and strategist for Obama who currently serves as the director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, Ardern said it was "strange" hearing about the overseas reaction to her work.

Axelrod said while Ardern governs a country "which is smaller than Cook County, which is where the University of Chicago sits", the world doesn't know the President of that county's Board. But it does who know New Zealand's Prime Minister is.

Ardern said she doesn't know if that's true, but Axelrod continued, saying "Jacindamania is a real thing". 

"I am wondering how you process all of that. Everybody knows your partner, everybody knows you had a child while you were in office. There is just this tremendous fascination with you. Does it feel weird to be in that position?"

Ardern replied by saying she felt "very uncomfortable" as the host said that. 

"In part that is probably because that's our New Zealand way. We are not very good at taking compliments. We never like to be put on a pedestal. It makes us feel deeply uncomfortable. We are not a country that does hierarchy particularly," she said.

"It's not a big deal when people will see me at the supermarket or out and about normally, so to hear you talk like that is strange for me."

The Prime Minister said that behind-the-scenes she and her family live a very normal life, but they can't spend as much time together as they would wish to. 

"By and large, we try and be as normal as we can, so that's while it feels odd."

She was asked what Kiwis' reaction was to her being celebrated on the international stage.

"I don't think anyone thinks I am not focused on New Zealand. I haven't been anywhere for 15 months. I don't do a lot of international media and things. For me, it is very genuine. I am elected to be the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

"I am interested in doing the international work where it does further some of the issues that we care deeply about. Human rights on the world stage, those multilateral institutions, our trade agenda, climate action. Where we have a role to play, that is where I will look to try and play it."

Ardern said Kiwis didn't spend much time thinking about it. 

"The odd article may pop up here and there, but beyond that, I don't think it is really topical or front of our minds." 

The Kiwi Prime Minister has featured on several occasions in international media interviews. One of the early iconic images of Ardern was for Vogue magazine in 2018. In that article, she was referred to as "the anti-Trump". She has also sat down for interviews with the likes of CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Ardern has frequently also popped up on international media lists ranking global leaders. Just last month, Fortune magazine named her the world's greatest leader

So what might she do whenever she leaves her current role? 

"I have no idea. I have never had a plan, I have never had a plan. In some ways, that has enabled me to eventually come to the point where I will just take up the next challenge that comes my way," she said. 

"If I was thinking about doing anything other than what I am doing now, I wouldn't be focused enough on the here and now, which is where I need to be. I have no idea. I will probably just go and be a slightly more present mum or something like that."