Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigning by February 7, announces election 2023 will be held on October 14

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will not be seeking re-election and will stand down by February 7. 

The Labour caucus will now ascertain whether any candidate has more than two-thirds of the caucus support. The caucus will vote on January 22. If a leader is successfully elected, Ardern will issue her resignation to the Governor-General. If no one can get this level of support, the contest will go to the wider membership.

Grant Robertson will not put himself forward for the leadership, she said. Ardern will not be backing any candidate in the contest for the leadership.

Ardern has also announced the 2023 election will be on October 14.

Newshub's live updates have finished.

7:15pm - Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has just released a statement on Ardern's resignation:

It was with deep sadness that I received the news on waking in Europe this morning that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is stepping down.

During almost five and a half years as Prime Minister, Jacinda has done an extraordinary job in leading New Zealand through major crises, delivering on a large social policy agenda aimed at rebuilding opportunity and fairness, presiding over an economy which has performed better than most of its peers in challenging global circumstances, and positioning New Zealand as a country which stands for international co-operation and decent values.

The pressures on Prime Ministers are always great, but in this era of social media, clickbait, and 24/7 media cycles, Jacinda has faced a level of hatred and vitriol which in my experience is unprecedented in our country. Our society could now usefully reflect on whether it wants to continue to tolerate the excessive polarisation which is making politics an increasingly unattractive calling.

Much will be written about Jacinda's substantial and significant legacy. For now, I express my gratitude to Jacinda for the humanity and empathy she brought to leadership, and wish her and her family well for the next chapters of their lives.

5:20pm - Here is a statement from the Child Poverty Action Group: 

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) acknowledges the work that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has done to put child poverty on the political agenda. As the first Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, she has advocated for children over challenging times, particularly given the disruption of the Covid pandemic.

Under her leadership, government strategy and policy around child poverty has been significantly strengthened. The Child Poverty Reduction Act means we now have a political requirement to report on progress (or lack thereof) on child poverty. It can no longer be ignored and written off.

CPAG also applauds the comprehensive steps and efforts taken to unify the different arms of central government to reduce child poverty in New Zealand. The Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy is now a statutory policy. As well strict procedures for amendment or review have been introduced which will offer long-term protection for children in the face of political change.

The Healthy School Lunches programme is a great example of steps taken by the Ardern government to reduce food insecurity and address the effects of poverty at the grass roots level. The estimated one million school lunches supplied each week ensures that children have the food they need to learn and grow.

In addition, increases have been made to the minimum wage and protections offered for tenants in relation to the obligations of landlords to provide warm, healthy homes. In November changes to the childcare subsidy policy were flagged for inclusion in the 2023 Budget. This should see an income threshold increase for over half of all New Zealand families with children eligible for subsidised childcare assistance.

CPAG would also like to see further steps taken as a matter of urgency to reduce disparity in child poverty rates, particularly for children disproportionately affected such as Māori, Pasifika and children with a disability. This should be implemented as a priority for any subsequent government.

CPAG spokesperson Mike O’Brien says "There are still too many children living in poverty, and the programme of action needs to be accelerated to address the high rates of poverty for some groups of children. While CPAG acknowledges the gains made under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern, we urgently ask for more to be done to support low-income families, and we look forward to the promised review of Working for Families. What we need now is immediate action so no child is left behind."

4:50pm - Three Labour MPs are being touted as the potential next Prime Minister after Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation. 

So who could be the next Prime Minister?

Learn more about the three Labour MPs here.

4:35pm - Ngāti Rangi has released this statement:

Kei te māringi tonu ngā roimata, kei te tangihia tonutia ngā mate o te wā iti nei, haere atu rā ki te iwi nui i te pō, okioki mai ai. Huri te pō, nau mai te ao.

E te Pirima, tēnā koangē. Mōu i whakapau kaha i roto i tau nei. Tēnei te mihi, tēnei te whakamānawa o Ngāti Rangi ki a koe, kautau ko tō whānau. Ka nui te aroha.

Ngāti Rangi has added its voice to those recognising the visionary leadership and devoted service of Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, in light of her resignation announced earlier today.

“Both at home and abroad, Prime Minister Ardern has been widely acclaimed for her compassionate leadership; her resolute strength and her decisive action in the face of adversity” said Ngāti Rangi Chair, Whetu Moataane.  

“For Ngāti Rangi, we appreciate that it was in her term that our Deed of Settlement, Rukutia Te Mana, was enacted; that the significance of Puanga/Matariki was endorsed by the House; that she was the first Prime Minister to introduce a Wellbeing Budget”.

“As a nation we acknowledge her remarkable dignity demonstrated in the wake of the massacre at the Christchurch mosques; her genuine warmth exemplified in the 1pm conversations with the country during the midst of a global pandemic” said Helen Leahy, Pouārahi for Ngāti Rangi.

“For our kaimahi, we commend her initiative during COVID of the Jobs for Nature funding that gave rise to Ruapehu WorX.   We will always remember her endorsement of Whānau Ora in highlighting the legendary efforts undertaken during lockdown and beyond; to ensure no whānau was left behind”.

“Her courageous statement today is powerful beyond measure.   In publically acknowledging her self-reflection that it was time to go; she has shown us all the importance of work-life balance; the priority she places on whānau; and the value of knowing your strengths.   We have the utmost admiration for her as a leader, as a māmā, as a wahine pūrotu”.

“The difference she has made will be remembered most in our hearts, for the enormous efforts she made around attitudinal change.   We think about her speech to Harvard University in May 2022 where she ended the speech by saying: “We are the richer for our difference, and poorer for our division. Through genuine debate and dialogue, through rebuilding trust in information and one another, through empathy – let us reclaim the space in between”.

4:20pm - The Council of Trade Unions has released this statement:

Working people want to express their thanks to outgoing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her service and the improvements to wages and conditions her government delivered, says Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff.

"Jacinda Ardern's government has delivered record employment, record wage rises, and improvements to the lives of working people including 26 weeks paid parental leave, 10 days paid sick leave, increasing the minimum wage by over 30%, the Matariki public holiday, Fair Pay Agreements, and much more.

"Perhaps her greatest legacy will be her leadership during COVID, which saved the lives of innumerable New Zealanders while also protecting the economy and workers' jobs.

"Achieving so much for working New Zealanders in just five and a half years, especially in the context of a global pandemic, is a record that Ardern can be proud of. It is a legacy that her successor must build upon and protect.

"Thank you, Jacinda, for your service to Aotearoa New Zealand," says Richard Wagstaff.

4:05pm - Throughout her years of leadership, Ardern has also cut a stylish figure with her smart-casual sartorial approach, garnering praise for her masterclasses in fashion diplomacy.

Often opting for relaxed, classic silhouettes, such as demure blouses, coats, blazers and dresses, Ardern also has made statements in fun prints along with the occasional pops of colour. 

Newshub Lifestyle Editor Lana Andelane has more here.

3:45pm - Celebrities have reacted swiftly to the news Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to step down no later than February 7.

Magda Szubanski, who played Sharon in the Kath and Kim comedy series, said she was "gutted" by the news. 

Comedian Guy Williams joked the "Briscoes Lady should be the next PM."

Read more celebrity reactions here.

3:35pm - Luxon acknowledges the Prime Minister's service to our country and for taking on a "difficult and demanding job". He says she has been a great ambassador for New Zealand on the global stage.

Nothing changes for National, however, he says. He believes New Zealand wants a governmen that "gets things done". 

Luxon says he found out like the rest of the public, firstly through a text and then by watching television reports. The National caucus came together to watch and then discussed it and the election date, Luxon tells reporters.

Today is about acknowledging the work Ardern has done, Luxon says. He wouldn't speculate about why Ardern believes she doesn't have the energy to stay in the role.

Luxon says National will be ready for the election on October 14. He wouldn't say whether he believes an election should be held earlier in light of the Prime Minister's decision.

3:30pm - National leader Christopher Luxon will shortly address media. You can watch a livestream of that above.

3:15pm - So what now? Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced her intention to resign, but what does that mean in practice? How will Labour choose its new leader? 

Find out here.

3:05pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's resignation comes after an extraordinary five years in power. She led New Zealand through March 15, the Whakaari/White Island eruption, COVID-19 and the global economic downturn. 

Here's a timeline of some of the biggest moments in her career.

2:55pm - Potential leadership contender Chris Hipkins has been spotted at the pub with current deputy Labour leader Kelvin Davis. Hipkins previously wouldn't say if he will stand, but is being discussed as a successor for Ardern.

Hipkins and Davis.
Hipkins and Davis. Photo credit: Newshub.

2:50pm - Michael Wood, another Labour MP being touted as a potential contender for the leadership, is saying very little about his ambitions. He wouldn't say if he will stand.

"Today is about celebrating one of the finest Prime Ministers we've already had. After that, we will have a caucus process."

He believes Labour can still win the 2023 election.

2:45pm - Jacinda Ardern's resignation as Prime Minister has made global headlines, with media outlets making note of her leadership through major disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister was lauded for New Zealand's success in fighting COVID-19 when it first emerged in 2020, with The Guardian highlighting how she "led New Zealand through the COVID-19 pandemic, and major disasters including the terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, and the White Island volcanic eruption". 

At Bloomberg, the business news outlet highlighted how it was a "shock" resignation. 

Read more here.

2:35pm - Megan Woods says the party's legacy to Ardern is to continue her work. 

She says no ministers will be ruling themselves in or out for the leadership.

Chris Hipkins, who is being discussed as a potential future leader, is also not commenting on whether he will be running. He says he is committed to being a member of the team.

2:30pm - Willie Jackson says he is "so sad" and he thanks her for her contribution for Maori.

"I am just really sad and disappointed," he says.

There has never been a Labour politician like her, Jackson says.

He said people will be putting their hand up to lead the Labour Party. A vote will take place on Sunday.

2:25pm - Labour's Dr Ayesha Verrall says she is "tremendously proud" of the work Ardern has done as Prime Minister, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Verrall won't rule out running for the leadership. 

Health Minister Andrew Little says it was a "surprise" and it has been a "privilege" working in Ardern's Cabinet. He won't rule out running for the leadership, but said he is enjoying what he is doing. Little was leader before Ardern took over ahead of the 2017 election.

He expects she will go down in history as one of New Zealand's greatest Prime Ministers.

2:20pm - The Green Party leadership has released this statement:

The Green Party is today acknowledging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's service to Aotearoa. 

"Jacinda Ardern has been a decisive and tireless leader of our country through unprecedented challenges, and we will be sorry to see her go," says Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

"The Prime Minister has fostered an extremely positive and constructive working relationship between her party and the Greens, and I'm proud of everything we have achieved together in government over the last five years.

"We haven't always agreed on everything, but even in times of disagreement we have appreciated and valued the constructive nature of the Prime Minister and her team. 

Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson added: 

"Jacinda Ardern's compassion in times of crisis, her determination to make progress towards a fairer and safer Aotearoa, and her leadership of two multi-party governments is a cause for huge admiration.

"Politics takes its toll, and I know the Prime Minister won't have made her decision lightly. 

"The Greens look forward to continuing our Cooperation Agreement work taking action on climate, protecting nature, and making sure everyone has what they need to live a good life.

"Labour's process to choose a new leader is for Labour. We will not be commenting, other than to say we look forward to continuing our work together, for the rest of this term and the next."

2:15pm - The Labour Party erupted in rapturous applause, cheers and singing in an emotional farewell to their leader Jacinda Ardern after she announced her shock resignation today.

Footage from the Labour Party's caucus retreat in Hawke's Bay on Thursday shows members from the Party embracing the Prime Minister after she delivered the news.

Watch the footage here.

2:05pm - Prime Minister Ardern's partner Clarke Gayford was at the announcement. In her speech, Ardern said she looked forward to spending more time with her family.

"To Neve, mum is looking forward to being there when you start school this year. And to Clarke, let’s finally get married."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigning by February 7, announces election 2023 will be held on October 14
Photo credit: Getty Images.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigning by February 7, announces election 2023 will be held on October 14
Photo credit: Getty Images.

2pm - Praise is flowing in for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after she announced her resignation ahead of the 2023 general election. 

The Labour leader took office in 2017 and has led the country for five years. Speaking with media on Thursday, Ardern said she will not seek re-election and will stand down on February 7. 

In the hour since her shock announcement, a number of political and community leaders have shared their thoughts on the Labour leader.

Read them here.

1:55pm - Newshub Political Editor Jenna Lynch is in Napier with the Prime Minister. She spoke to Newshub's Michael Morrah right after the bombshell announcement. Watch it below:

1:50pm - 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigning by February 7, announces election 2023 will be held on October 14
Photo credit: Newshub.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigning by February 7, announces election 2023 will be held on October 14
Photo credit: Newshub.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigning by February 7, announces election 2023 will be held on October 14
Photo credit: Newshub.

1:45pm - National leader Christopher Luxon has released this statement: 

"On behalf of the National Party, I offer to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern our thanks for her service to New Zealand. She has given her all to this incredibly demanding job and I wish her and her family all the very best for the future. Thank you Jacinda."

1:42pm - Labour MP Kiri Allan tells Newshub the announcement is a "shock". 

Ardern has sat the helm of the country through many challenges, Allan says. Ardern led with grace and empathy, she says. Allan says she is proud to have been in Ardern's Cabinet.

"We send her with love," Allan said.

Allan is not ruling out standing for the leadership. She said there is now a process underway to elect the new leader.

She believes Labour can still win the next election.

1:41pm - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has released this statement:

"Jacinda Ardern has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength. She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities. Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many and a great friend to me.

"I look forward to working with the next Prime Minister of New Zealand and I wish @jacindaardern and her family well in the next chapter of their lives."

1:40pm - ACT leader David Seymour has released a statement on the resignation of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

"Jacinda Ardern is a well-meaning person, but her idealism collided hard with reality. We wish her and her family well for their future.

"Ardern’s collision with reality has left this country with big problems: the economy, the lawlessness, the Treaty.

'New Zealand needs a new government of real change and ACT will be providing the ideas and the backbone to make the change real."

1:35pm - Full statement from Grant Robertson:

I am not putting myself forward to be a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party.  In 2014 when I failed to secure the leadership of the Party for the second time I indicated that I would not put myself forward again.   My position has not changed.

I have been a close up witness to the extraordinary work that Jacinda has done as leader and Prime Minister. 

The level of intensity and commitment required of Prime Minister is an order of magnitude greater than any other role. It is a job that you must unequivocally want to do in order to do it the justice it deserves.  I have every confidence that there are colleagues within the Caucus who are both capable of doing the role, and have the desire to take it on.  They will have my full support.

It is a privilege to be Minister of Finance.  I recognise that as the country faces a challenging economic environment, experience, stability and continuity are critical. I remain absolutely committed to fulfilling that role, or any other one the new Leader will ask me to undertake.  I am also committed to running in the 2023 election to help secure a further term for a Labour led government.

I will not be making any further comment on the leadership until the process has concluded.

It has been the honour of my working life to have supported Jacinda as Minister of Finance and as Deputy Prime Minister.   Her intellect, judgement and empathy mark her out as one of New Zealand’s finest Leaders.  I believe that history will judge her tenure as Prime Minister as a period where New Zealand not only weathered many storms, but also made huge progress in becoming a stronger, fairer and more inclusive nation.   As a colleague, a friend and a New Zealander I am incredibly grateful for her service and commitment and wish her every joy and success in the future.

1:30pm - The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

"Announcing the election date early in the year provides New Zealanders with certainty and has become the practice of this Government and the previous one, and I believe is best practice," Jacinda Ardern said.

"Most recent elections have been held in the latter months of the year, so this year's timing keeps with that tradition and is similar to the 2020 election date.

"Labour will be standing on our strong record of progress. I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved over these two terms. We are a strong, experienced and effective team that has successfully steered New Zealand through the greatest challenges our country has faced in decades.

"While I won't be contesting the election, I know the issues that impact New Zealanders most will remain the focus of the Government through this year and into the election.

"The ability for families to make ends meet, to create new opportunities to get ahead and keeping the economy strong and stable in the face of international headwinds will continue to be our focus," Jacinda Ardern said.

The Governor-General has been advised of the election date.

The Government's intention is that the House will rise on Thursday the 31st of August and Parliament will be dissolved on Friday the 8th of September.

Writ day will follow on Sunday 10 September 2023, and nominations will close at noon on Friday 15 September 2023. Advance voting will start on Monday 2 October 2023.

The last day for the return of the writ will be Thursday 9 November 2023.

1:25pm - Ardern said when she told her caucus, they were surprised but understood. 

"I think they could see I had given everything and they didn't begrude this decision," she said.

Ardern told a very small number of colleagues of her decision before the wider caucus.

1:20pm - Ardern denies she has destablised the Labour Party with her announcement. She says every leader needs to "reflect on the transitions that need to be made" and have the courage to know when you don't have what it takes to lead.

"This is a big change but I absolutely believe we have the capability in our team to continue to carry New Zealand forward."

Over Christmas and the summer period, she reflected whether she had what is needed to lead. She hoped she would find that, but "unfortunately I haven't."

"I would be doing a disservice to New Zealand to continue."

1:15pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said events over her term as Prime Minister having been "taxing", but she doesn't want to leave the impression that the adversity faced is the reason people exit politics.

From earlier: Ardern said she is entering her sixth year in office and it has been a challenging role. 

You cannot and should not do the role unless you have a full tank, she says. She said she hoped over summer she would be able to prepare for another term, but she has not been able to do that.

"I'm not leaving because it was hard, had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job. I am leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility, the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. "

The Prime Minister said her term has seen a major biosecuity incursion, a terror attack, a natural disaster, a global pandemic and an economic crisis.

"I know what this job takes and I know I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It's that simple," Ardern said.

Ardern's full statement:

Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

A caucus vote to elect a new Party Leader will occur in 3 days' time on Sunday the 22nd of January. 

"Being Prime Minister has been the greatest honour of my life and I want to thank New Zealanders for the enormous privilege of leading the country for the last five and a half years," Jacinda Ardern said.

"With holding such a privileged role comes responsibility, including the responsibility to know when you're the right person to lead, and also when you're not.  

"I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along. 

"Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It's that simple. 

"I have spoken to the Governor-General this morning to let her know.

"In addition to our ambitious agenda that has sought to address long term issues like the housing crisis, child poverty and climate change, we also had to respond to a major biosecurity incursion, a domestic terror attack, a volcanic eruption and a one in one hundred year global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis. The decisions that had to be made have been constant and weighty. 

"I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved over the last five years in spite of the many challenges thrown at us. We've turned around child poverty statistics and made the most significant increases in welfare support and public housing stock seen in many decades.

"We've made it easier to access education and training while improving the pay and conditions of workers. And we've worked hard to make progress on issues around our national identify - I believe that teaching our history in schools and celebrating Matariki as our own indigenous national holiday will all make a difference for years to come. 

"And we've done that while responding to some of the biggest threats to the health and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders, arguably since World War Two.

"The Labour team are incredibly well placed to contest the next election. They are the most experienced team in the country and have shown they have the skills necessary to respond to whatever comes their way.

"I'm not leaving because I believe we can't win the election, but because I believe Labour can and will win it. We need a fresh set of shoulders for the challenges of both this year and the next three. 

"As to my time in the job, I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader - one who knows when it's time to go," Jacinda Ardern said.