Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction

Election 2023 was blown wide open on Thursday after a shock announcement from the Prime Minister she's resigning from the top job.

In announcing her resignation, Jacinda Ardern also revealed October 14 is the day New Zealanders will head to the polls.

The Labour Party caucus will pick its new leader - New Zealand's next Prime Minister - on Sunday.

These live updates have now finished.

4:45pm - Labour Chief Whip Duncan Webb has announced nominations for the Labour leadership must be received by 9am on Saturday morning. They require support from at least 10 percent of the caucus - so 7 MPs not including the nominee.

"Caucus has agreed to meet on Sunday 22 January at 1pm.  If there is only one nominee an endorsement by caucus is required. Members unable to attend in person can vote by proxy," he said.

"If a vote is required the vote will be by exhaustive ballot. That means it will be by rounds and the lowest polling candidate will be removed at the end of each round. This will continue until either one candidate has two thirds of the vote or more, or there are two candidates and neither can secure two thirds of the vote. There are no limits on the number of votes to be taken.

"Caucus had 7 days from the date of resignation to reach a decision. Accordingly Caucus can continue to meet to seek to obtain 66% support for a leader up until that time."

3:30pm - There is something quintessentially Kiwi about the trackie dacks and Dirty Dog-esque sunglasses Labour MP Chris Hipkins wore on Friday morning as media chased him down for an interview on his leadership ambitions.

Hipkins' was interviewed by political reporter Amelia Wade on Friday morning while out for some exercise in Napier. 

Twitter users went to town with comments about Hipkins' choice of outfit.

Read more here.

3:05pm - An Auckland bar is facing criticism after posting offensive signs about outgoing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in response to her resignation. 

Shooters Saloon Bar & Hotel in Kingsland found itself in hot water on Friday after its owner wrote offensive messages about Ardern on the side of the building. 

Read more here.

2:50pm - The Labour Party will at the weekend work to decide on its first new leader since Jacinda Ardern replaced Andrew Little ahead of the 2017 election.

Voting will take place on Sunday, with potential candidates needing the support of at least two-thirds of the party's caucus.

Labour's president Jill Day told RNZ's Morning Report she was confident the caucus would reach a consensus on who the party's next leader would be.

Read more here.

2:30pm - Megan Woods wouldn't confirm on Friday afternoon that she won't be standing to be Labour leader, as some media outlets are reporting they understand to be the case.

She said the caucus process included MPs not ruling themselves in or out.

However, she did say, "I think everyone knows I have never really shown leadership ambition".

She said she is "keen to run our campaign".

Woods is Labour's Campaign Chair.

2:10pm - Labour minister Dr Ayesha Verrall wouldn't tell Newshub if she had been contacted by any of her colleagues for her support.

"The process for determining a leader is a caucus one and that will be a confidential process," she said.

She wouldn't say if she would like to run or if she has what it takes to be the Prime Minister.

1:50pm - Outgoing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown people around the globe how to be tough and compassionate, according to Australia's Anthony Albanese.

The left-leaning Australia Prime Minister has penned a column for The Sydney Morning Herald published on Friday, titled: Ardern showed the world how to be kind and strong.

While discussing the fact Ardern "reminded us all that kindness and strength are not mutually exclusive", Albanese said she showed "a true leader possesses both".

Albanese argued, in his piece for The SMH, Ardern was "a fierce advocate for New Zealand and a great friend to Australia".

Read more here.

1:35pm - Jacinda Ardern's shock resignation as Prime Minister has made global headlines but amidst the mountains of international praise, the BBC is being accused of missing the mark.

Huge media outlets all around the world reported on her announcement with many highlighting her leadership throughout major disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

But instead, one media giant found itself in hot water after publishing an article with the headline: "Jacinda Ardern resigns: Can women really have it all?"

It's led to outrage as Molly Swift explains here.

1:20pm - RNZ has spoken to former Whakatāne Mayor Judy Turner who worked with Ardern during the Whakaari/White Island eruption.

She told the outlet that she couldn't believe the Prime Minister was by her side hours after the volcano erupted.

"To have a leader that actually cares enough to get out and be beside, to recognise the suffering of other people, to provide support for services that are responding to the situation, I think all that means a lot to people. I think history will judge her well."

12:50pm - It's barely 24 hours since the Prime Minister shocked the country by announcing her resignation, but speculation is already mounting as to Jacinda Ardern's next move with some suggesting it could be to the United Nations in New York.

Officially, Ardern has no role to go to and may well take a considerable break after what even opposition supporters will admit has been a grueling premiership that included both the Christchurch massacre and the White Island eruption.

There is little doubt a case could be made for Ardern to follow in the footsteps of Helen Clark and look for a leadership position at the UN, the international body headquartered minutes from the landmark Grand Central Station in midtown New York. 

Read Mitch McCann's analysis here.

12:40pm - National is out campaigning in Napier.

Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.
Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.
Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.

12:25pm - The attention of the nation has quickly turned to who will be its new leader after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's shock resignation.

The most obvious contender for the role is Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson but he has already ruled himself out.

So who do you want to get the top job?

Vote here.

12:10pm - Labour's Michael Wood says politicians don't do anyone any favours by letting leadership contests play out in public.

"I am a team player," he said. "We have all agreed that we would do this as an internal team process. I don't think politicians ever do themselves or their parties or the country any favours by playing these things out in public."

Watch the full interview here.

12pm - The country is still reeling after the Prime Minister's abrupt resignation on Thursday but Labour MPs are already being asked whether they're planning a punt at the top job. 

Newshub caught up with a number of them on Friday morning - here's what they had to say.

11:40am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's full press conference from earlier on Friday is now in the video above or found here.

11:30am - Luxon is out on the streets of Napier speaking with members of the public. 

He was also asked by reporters about the level of abuse levelled at political leaders.

"I don't really spend a lot of time online," Luxon said. "I don't live my life on Twitter. I don't live my life in the beltway of Wellington either. It's the way I manage it. I am aware of what is said about me. Frankly, I don't necessarily choose to listen to it."

Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.
Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.
Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.

11:20am - Ardern says she spoke with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday.

She sent him a message prior to announcing her resignation as she has a close relationship with him, she says.

"He has become a friend and I respect him greatly."

11:15am - The Prime Minister says she respects Grant Robertson's decision not to run for the leadership.

Ardern says he wanted to make sure she had given everything consideration before she announced her resignation.

"In the end, I knew I had his support for whatever decision I made."

She doesn't doubt she made the right call to stand down, she says.

"Even though I am, of course, tinged with sadness, I don't doubt the decision."

11:10am - Ardern says misogyny played no part in her decision to leave the job.

She says women can take on leadership roles "in a way that in the past, it just wasn't in the same way". Women can be in leadership positions and "have a family", she says.

"Is there more work to do? Yes, but that was not the cause for my departure."

She's had "difficult moments" as Prime Minister but also had "incredible support".

Ardern says she will be remaining neutral in the Labour leadership contest up until the vote, which she will participate in.

11:05am - She hopes the Labour leadership contest is "swift" and "ensures that the team is able to move quickly back to focusing on the issues that matter for New Zeaand."

The vote will take place only three days after her announcement, she says.

New Zealanders should know their next Prime Minister after the caucus meeting on Sunday.

PM Ardern.
PM Ardern. Photo credit: Newshub.

11am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just spoken to Newshub at Napier airport.

She says she "slept well for the first time in a long time" on Thursday night, but there are "still a range of emotions". She says she is "sad, but also I do have a sense of relief".

She has been "deeply humbled" by the response she has received since she announced her resignation.

Ardern says she didn't consider holding a snap election instead of standing down. 

"Elections are incredibly disruptive. There was no need for one in this case."

She says there have been other instances of leaders handing over the role in the lead-up to an election. Sir John Key stood down at the end of 2016 allowing Sir Bill English to be Prime Minister ahead of the 2017 election.

10:45am - Former Prime Minister Helen Clark's comments about Jacinda Ardern's resignation are being described as "naive" and "condescending" by a political commentator.

Political commentator and former National Party ministerial advisor Brigitte Morten told Newshub Late Prime Ministers don't spend their time scrolling social media.

Read more here

10:35am - National leader Christopher Luxon tells reporters there "is an element of gendered abuse" towards female politicians that is different to how men are treated in politics. 

He doesn't want to see a deep "polarisation" in New Zealand that stops politicians working together. Politicians can have a robust debate while having civility, he said.

His deputy, Nicola Willis, says all politicians receive a share of flack and abuse and as their profiles increase, that also does. She says some of the abuse she has received has been gendered.

Nicola Willis.
Nicola Willis. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:30am - Speaking to RNZ, Ardern's former Chief of Staff Mike Munro said the amount of media coverage Ardern received during the COVID-19 pandemic may have worked against her as she may have been "overexposed".

"But look, she had a pandemic to deal with, she had a national crisis to deal with and it was important that she showed leadership and she stepped up and did that."

10:15am - While Labour readies itself for a leadership contest, National MPs are listening to a presentation from finance spokesperson Nicola Willis on the economy. 

Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.
Jacinda Ardern resignation live updates: Labour leadership contest, reaction
Photo credit: Newshub.

10:05am - Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis says no decision has been made about whether he will stay on in his role.

"Those decisions have yet to be made... we will have those discussions. No decision's been made yet."

He's ruled out standing for the top job.

10am - National deputy leader Nicola Willis is speaking at the National caucus retreat in Napier. You can watch that above.

9:55am - For those in New Zealand relieved that Christmas is over because it means politics resumes, this week held the promise of a Cabinet reshuffle, the possible unveiling of some meaty new policy and, if we were really lucky, the announcement of the date of this year's general election.

We got the last of these (it will be on October 14). What we also got, however, was the announcement that in three weeks' time one of the most popular - and powerful - Prime Ministers in recent New Zealand history will be stepping down.

It isn't difficult to divine why Jacinda Ardern has reached her decision. As she herself put it: "I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have but also one of the more challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges."

Read more of Richard Shaw's analysis here.

9:40am - Burnout is real - and it's nothing to be ashamed of. 

That's the conclusion Jacinda Ardern seems to have reached after almost six brutal years in office.

The soon-to-be-former Prime Minister, who announced her resignation Thursday, said the decision to stand down came during a reflective summer. And with an election looming this October, she saw no need to prolong her departure.

Read CNN's report.

9:35am - Labour's Greg O'Connor said politics is more than just one person.

"The country voted for Labour, Jacinda is one vote in caucus. The public can have absolute confidence in the process," he said.

He expects the public will know the leader "pretty soon after we meet", suggesting he believes the caucus will agree to a candidate.

9:25am - Hipkins has arrived at Napier airport.

He tells Newshub it is "very premature" to consider him the next Prime Minister.

"I think it is important that the Labour team have an opportunity to talk amongst themselves. There has been some great conversations happening. I am very optimistic we will build a consensus around a new leader and that we will continue to provide the unified and stable leadership that New Zealanders voted for when they voted for us."

There is no confirmed list of candidates, he says. 

"I am absolutely committed to the success of the Government," Hipkins says.

A change in the leadership doesn't change the policies Labour is governing to implement, he says.

Chris Hipkins at Napier airport.
Chris Hipkins at Napier airport. Photo credit: Newshub.

9:20am - Speaking to Today FM, former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark said Ardern had been "driven out of politics by vitriol and hate".

"There has been a misogynistic element in the way that Jacinda has been attacked," Clark said, adding she was "stunned" by Ardern's resignation.

9:15am - US President Joe Biden says the US-NZ relationship is "stronger than ever" thanks to Jacinda Ardern's leadership.

"Your stewardship in advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific was crucial – I look forward to deepening our nations’ ties for generations to come."

9:10am - National leader Christopher Luxon has told Today FM he remained focused on his own party after Ardern's resignation.

"It is going to be an incredibly tough year and so for us, our job is to stay very focused on the things that we talked about as a caucus yesterday," he said on Friday.

"The cost of living crisis, lifting incomes, restoring law and order and delivering better health and education and so that's where our focus has to be through the course of the year.

"At the end of the day, the New Zealand people are going to choose who actually forms the Government on October 14."

9am - Chris Hipkins has just spoken to Newshub, stressing the need for "consensus" in the Labour leadership race.

"I am really optimistic about the conversations my colleagues are having about making this decision really thoughtfully and constructively and with a good degree of consensus. I think my colleagues are taking the responsibility here very, very seriously.

"I think if we can reach a consensus and then really unite as a team behind a new leader that's going to be far better for New Zealand."

Watch the interview here.

8:45am - Within hours of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's shock resignation announcement in Napier, a small crowd gathers outside the city's conference centre.

Unlike the steady stream of shocked Labour MPs still coming to terms with the news, these folks are celebrating.

"Ding dong the witch is gone," a placard reads.

Read more here. 

8:30am - Labour MP David Clark says caucus matters are kept to caucus and he wouldn't say whether candidates will reveal themselves publicly before the Sunday vote.

"We have a caucus process set up and that's the way these things operate."

New Zealanders are rightfully concerned about the cost of living, global challenges and opportunities in trade, he says, and Labour needs to find a leader who can "carry on Jacinda Ardern's legacy".

8:15am - The Chinese Foreign Ministry overnight refused to comment on Ardern's resignation, telling a Reuters reporter: "This is New Zealand’s internal affair and we have no comment on it."

But China's Ambassador to New Zealand Wang Xiaolong tweeted on Thursday his thanks to Ardern.

8am - Reuters has filed a substantial piece on Ardern's legacy as Prime Minister, considering her as a "global icon for left-leaning politics and women in leadership" but also noting her troubles domestically.

Read more here.

7:50am - Iain Lees-Galloway, a former minister in Ardern's Cabinet, has told RNZ the new Labour leader will have to work extra hard to win this year's election. He said it may have given National the upper hand.

He believes Ardern when she says she doesn't have enough left in her tank.

"This really came as a shock to most people, including most people in the Labour caucus," he told Morning Report.

"The person behind the scenes is very much the person that, you know, people see on the 6 o'clock news and hear on the radio, and so I think Jacinda's being absolutely honest when she says she's burned out, she couldn't get re-energised over summer."

7:40am - Aupito William Sio, who last year announced he will be retiring at the election, tells Newshub the caucus has been having discussions, but "we won't know who will be running until nominations have closed".

He wouldn't say if there is a frontrunner currently.

The MP says he hopes whoever puts themselves forward feels confident "that the caucus is mature enough to have that competition". 

The successful candidate will need the "mettle" for the upcoming election campaign, he says.

7:30am - Phil Twyford says no one has contacted him for his support, but there "are conversations going on". No one has put their name forward yet that he is aware of, he says.

Twyford tells Newshub it is "extremely likely" caucus will choose the next leader rather than it going out to the membership. A successful candidate needs two-thirds of support in caucus on Sunday, otherwise members get a voice.

He says the process is confidential so he wouldn't be speculating on potential contenders. 

Twyford doubts any candidate will make themselves publicly known before Sunday's meeting.

7:25am - Labour MP Rino Tirikatene says no one has so far "directly" sought his support for the Labour leadership, but he says, "we have been having lots of discussions".

He tells Newshub on Friday morning, "we always want to encourage Māori to strive for higher positions".

"I think all of Māoridom would like to see a Māori Prime Minister… as the co-chair of the Māori caucus we do support our Māori colleagues."

Tirikatene, the MP for Te Tai Tonga, says whether he would put his name in the ring is "still under consideration".

7:20am - There has been a flood of reaction overnight:

7am - New Zealand's Te Pāti Māori party has acknowledged Ardern's "outstanding contribution" to Aotearoa.

"She has led our country through its darkest times with absolute dignity while managing to keep our country's economic status in line with the most successful OECD countries in the world."

6:42am - Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Ardern would be "remembered for guiding her country with strength, compassion and grace through multiple historic crises".

"She's shown the world a new model of powerful leadership," Clinton said. "A true stateswoman."

6:20am - Below is some more reaction to Ardren's resignaton:

NZ Green Party co-leader James Shaw

"Jacinda Ardern has been a decisive and tireless leader of our country through unprecedented challenges, and we will be sorry to see her go."

Senior Labour MP Chris Hipkins

"Jacinda has been a voice of calm, kind reassurance and strength. I can think of no better person to have led us through the past five and a half years and I totally respect her decision to stand aside.

"I know after she has had some time to recharge we will hear more from Jacinda."

NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta

"I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and the contribution she has made to ensure a more tolerant and inclusive Aotearoa NZ at a time when so many challenges confronted her.

"She has led with grace, kindness and decisiveness. Thank you."

6:15am - Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thanked Ardern for her "partnership and your friendship - and for your empathic, compassionate, strong, and steady leadership over these past several years. 

"The difference you have made is immeasurable," he said on Twitter. "I wish you and your family nothing but the best, my friend."