Internet comes to New Zealand's defence after Jeremy Clarkson blasts Aotearoa, makes derogatory comment about Jacinda Ardern

The internet has come to New Zealand's defence after British television personality Jeremy Clarkson blasted Aotearoa and made a derogatory comment about the Prime Minister.

Clarkson, known for his controversial comments, wrote an opinion piece earlier this week for The Times examining where he might move to if he was to leave "busted Britain".

First, he takes a swing at Australia, where he says no one of success would want to move. 

"The only reason for going is that you've become unemployed, your wife has left you, your kids hate your guts and you have just one follower on Instagram," Clarkson writes. "Or it's where your boat washed up. Or that's where you were sent by the magistrate."

"So, on the face of it, Australia is ideal for those who've had enough of Britain - but now I'm not so sure because, God, it's woke."

However, he claims New Zealand is "even worse". 

"It is now so right-on that the BBC is calling the country 'progressive' and happily licking the back of its prime minister, who couldn't deal with the pandemic because she was putting her baby to bed. Give me strength."

Those remarks have been criticised online.

"Yeah, it's a massive shame all those people insisted on voting for her. Democracy? What can we do with it? New Zealand - that failed state whose South Island hasn't had a single COVID 19 case this year."

One person called Ardern "great", another said Clarkson needed to "give it a rest", while a third said they would "move there tomorrow".

A The Times reader commented that they had lived in New Zealand and felt Clarkson's analysis "is a little off mark".

"Having lived in New Zealand I think your analysis is a little off mark. New Zealand is actually very conservative but also proactive on social issues. Their perceived 'wokeness' is actually not so the same as their US and British friends," the person said.

"The Whaitangi(sic) treaty was actually an incredible step that New Zealand took long before 'woke' empty Instagram gestures and pointless bending of knees were a thing.

"In NZ they realised that they had an endemic cultural issue with the way Māori had been historically treated. They took concrete and proactive steps to do this in a pragmatic way that linked in modern law and property ownership with historic theoretical ownership. Is it perfect? No.

"It's a lot more productive than an Instagram post though."

While Clarkson is obviously no fan of New Zealand's leader, it appears he's at odds with other Brits. In a March poll published by the editor of The Times' newsletter Redbox, Jacinda Ardern was listed among the people Brits wanted to be the country's Head of State, alongside Kate Middleton, Tony Blair and Clarkson himself. 

Contrary to the television personality's remark, Ardern has been widely praised internationally for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly over the course of its first year. 

In May, Fortune said Ardern was the world's greatest leader, having at the time "all but eliminated COVID-19" while also adopting "world-leading" policies in climate change and gender equity. British political magazine Prospect last September called Ardern one of the globe's top "thinkers" of the COVID-19 era. 

"Her COVID-19 strategy - devised in lockstep with chief scientist Juliet Gerrard - built with intelligence and empathy on a foundation of unflinching honesty to achieve some of the world's best results," the magazine said.

Some online agreed with Clarkson, saying the praise Ardern and New Zealand has previously received was not deserved. 

"It's easy for NZ to close its borders and keep COVID out. No praise is deserved for that," they said. "The hard job will be to keep that strategy and open up to the world again. There are already a lot of very angry Kiwis. And many of us in the South Island."

Another called New Zealand's Government a "woke regime" and a third said it was "currently a lunatic asylum run by the inmates".

Ardern was re-elected at last October's general election, with her Labour Party securing the first-ever majority of the MMP era. That triumph has been attributed largely to the Government's COVID-19 response, which Ardern has fronted throughout the last 18 months, regularly holding media conferences multiple times a week.

While the current Delta outbreak has hurt New Zealand's international reputation, with cases nearing the triple figures for the first time and ministers admitting it's unlikely the virus will be eliminated here, Aotearoa has still seen just 28 deaths. Since New Zealand's first case in February 2020, we've recorded 5153 infections.