Social media users critical of Jacinda Ardern bombard Harvard University Facebook post announcing her as guest

  • 16/02/2022
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: AM

Harvard University is being slammed by critics of Jacinda Ardern on social media after announcing she will be the principal speaker at its commencement.

New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern on Tuesday shared details of her delegation to the US in May, where she will focus on high-tech exports and also speak at the prestigious Harvard University. 

Harvard announced the news in an article shared on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

"Prime Minister Ardern is one of the most respected leaders on the world stage and we are delighted she will join us in May to celebrate the Class of 2022," Harvard president Larry Bacow said.

"From climate change and gender equality to COVID-19, she has modelled compassionate leadership that has brought together empathy and science-based solutions to address the most challenging issues of our time. 

"I very much look forward to her address."

Social media users have been reacting to the news, with many criticising Harvard for inviting Ardern as a speaker and bombarding the Facebook post to voice their opinions.

Comments directed at Ardern included criticisms of the Government's managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities, the handling of pregnant Kiwi journalist Charlotte Bellis' case and her quest to return to New Zealand as well as other COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. 

Many of the comments appeared to be from New Zealanders and ex-pat Kiwis.

Ardern's Government is currently under intense scrutiny amid anti-COVID vaccine mandate protests at Parliament - where demonstrators have been camped out for nearly nine days. The Government late last year mandated vaccinations against COVID-19 for workers in certain industries and roles, with redeployment off the front lines possible for those who refuse, to help reduce the impact of the virus that's killed more than 5.8 million people and infected over 415 million around the world. 

Labour has also long been criticised for the MIQ system and Opposition parties have called for it to be scrapped immediately. Instead, the Government has opted for a phased reopening of New Zealand's borders.

However, Ardern last week remained by far and away New Zealand's preferred Prime Minister in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll - sitting at 43.3 percent compared to National Party leader Christopher Luxon's 17.8 percent.