International fascination with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern isn't reciprocated in New Zealand, according to a writer for The New York Times.
Wellington-based journalist Pete McKenzie has penned a column for the newspaper published on Monday, titled: Abroad, Jacinda Ardern Is a Star. At Home, She's Losing Her Shine.
While discussing the fact that Ardern was a "leading liberal light" overseas, McKenzie said the New Zealand public had growing doubts she could deliver meaningful "change she promised on systemic problems".
McKenzie argued, in his NYT piece, that Ardern "built an international profile as a progressive feminist and a compassionate leader" but the Prime Minister's Government had "lost its unifying fight against the pandemic and, with it, much of its bipartisan support".
"What remains is soaring inflation, increasing gun violence and little progress on issues that have bedeviled New Zealand for decades," McKenzie wrote.
Ardern's initial handling of the pandemic and New Zealand's internationally heralded response to the first COVID-19 waves led her Labour Party to a historic majority election victory in 2020.
Since then, however, she has been criticised over the Government's handling of the chaotic anti-mandate protest at Parliament earlier this year, being slower to reopen New Zealand's borders than many other countries and the mounting cost of living and crime crises.
"The whole world is experiencing the worst economic shock since the Great Depression, with the war in Ukraine and COVID-19-related supply chain issues adding to it with the worst inflation spike in decades," Ardern's spokesman told the NYT.
National is now chipping away at Labour's pandemic popularity. Newshub-Reid Research polling last month found the cost of living crisis had cost the Government dearly - with Labour suffering a dramatic drop of 6.1 points to 38 percent.
It was the party's first time in the 30s since Ardern became Prime Minister in 2017. The poll showed National ahead on 40 percent.
"It has been a really difficult period for New Zealand and then, of course, by default that makes it a difficult period to govern through," Ardern said in response to May's Newshub poll.
"There will be, from time to time, tough decisions that need to be made and if that means that we take a bit of a hit in the numbers… that's a price we're willing to pay."