Jacinda Ardern valedictory speech live updates: Former Prime Minister gives final address to New Zealand Parliament

Former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has addressed the New Zealand Parliament for the final time before bowing out of politics.

Ardern leaves Parliament having served as an MP since 2008 - the last six years of those as MP for Mt Albert - and as Prime Minister for a little more than five years. She resigned from the top job in January, leading to Chris Hipkins' ascendancy. 

6pm - After further reflection on her time in politics, whether she changed during her tenure, and motherhood - including noting her difficulty with pregnancy - Ardern wraps up her speech. She hugs other MPs as the House breaks into waiata. The first hug was with her long-time friend Grant Robertson.

Jacinda Ardern valedictory speech live updates: Former Prime Minister gives final address to New Zealand Parliament
Photo credit: Newshub.

5:55pm - Ardern is now speaking about her family, noting her dad stopped watching the new for five years. She thanks them for their patience, love and support. 

She says her daughter Neve has already become independent. She would be happily known as Neve's mum. Ardern remarks Clarke told her he thought she should stay in politics when she told him she was thinking of quitting. He's a keeper, she says.

On Grant Robertson, Ardern says he and her were a team. She says she didn't take on challenges alone, but with great people like Grant.

"You are a brilliant Finance Minister and a brilliant friend." 

She speaks about new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni. 

"Chippy is thoughtful, focused and importantly, he's caring. We are all in good hands."

5:50pm - Ardern is now thanking people, including her security team, VIP drivers and members of the Labour Party. She says she started in the Labour Party as a volunteer delivering flyers, and that is what she will do now.

She mentions Helen Clark, Phil Goff, Trevor Mallard and Annette King among others. She thanks a number of Prime Minister's Office staffers, including her Chief Press Secretary Andrew Campbell, deputy Chief of Staff Holly Donald, and Chief of Staff Raj Nahna.

5:45pm - Ardern says during the latter stage of COVID there was a loss for some to have respective positions and express them respectfully. She says there was false information circulating around. 

She says she learnt she couldn't single-handedly pull some people out a rabbit hole. Fractured debates based on falsehoods and half-truths are happening on many topics. She says conspiracy is the nemesis of a healthy democracy.

"Free speech is a right this House is unified in defending," she says.

She's speaking about March 15 and meeting with community members. She says she struggles to talk about it. Ardern says there is much we must continue to do in the aftermath of the shooting and she will continue to work on the Christchurch Call.

"You have humbled me beyond words," Ardern says to the Muslim community.

She speaks about previous tragedies, like the Erebus crash and the Pike River disaster.

5:40pm - Ardern says politics "has never been a tick list for me", but it's about "progress".

She notes some achievements like banning conversion therapy, apologising for the Dawn Raids, banning military-style assault weapons, and decriminalising abortion. Those may note feature heavily in the history books, "they are nonetheless things I feel very proud of".

Ardern says COVID was an "incredibly tough experience" for New Zealand and for her personally. For two years, there were some people that when they called her she would go into a "cold sweat" and would have to sit down. She speaks about when COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins got a call about a case that then lead to the Delta outbreak.

Ardern says the "unknowns" of the COVID-19 pandemic were one of the toughest parts. She said there was luck, but also New Zealanders doing their best. 

"I was surrounded by wonderful, smart, compassionate people trying to do the right thing. We didn't always didn't get it right, I didn't always get it right. But we were also motivated by the right things."

She said there was a goal as a nation to look after each other - "and we did".

Ardern thanks COVID officials, ministers and staffers involved in the response.

5:35pm - Ardern thanks Greens co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw. She's enjoyed working with them "immensely". She says their own party processes "look something akin to the Squid Games". 

She is speaking about the work the Labour Government has done to work with Māori.

"The path we travel as a nation will not linear and it won't always be easy. But for the part of the trail, I had the privilege of leading, I am glad we took on the hilly bits."

Ardern says the Government has done a lot to help remove children from poverty, but acknowledges more can be done.

There are other projects she would have wanted to see done, she says.

Jacinda Ardern valedictory speech live updates: Former Prime Minister gives final address to New Zealand Parliament
Photo credit: Newshub.

5:30pm - Ardern begins by speaking about a sense of "shock" she had when she first entered Parliament and gave her maiden speech. She was just 28 years at the time, she said. 

Her time as Prime Minister has been "distilled down" into a different list, including a terrorist attack, a volcanic eruption and a pandemic, she said. Leading New Zealanders through crises is the responsibility of a Prime Minister.

She notes being Prime Minister is a role she didn't think she would have.

Ardern says she has never whether to "curse" or thank Andrew Little, who resigned as Labour leader in 2017, leading to her becoming the leader. During the campaign, there was never time "to be anything but myself", she said. Ardern remarks remembering she wanted climate change to be front and centre of her campaign launch speech.

"When I came here 15 years ago, we talked about climate change as if it was almost a hypothetical. Some didn't even give it that credit," Ardern says. But she says things have changed and she has seen the impact of climate change on some communities.

"I know there is politics in almost everything. This chamber understands why more than anyone. But we also know when and how to remove it. When crisis has landed in front of us, I have seen the best of this place... climate change is a crisis. It is upon us and so one of the very few things I will ask of this House on my departure is you please take the politics out of climate change."

Ardern in the House giving her speech.
Ardern in the House giving her speech. Photo credit: Newshub.

5:25pm - Once again, you'll find the livestream above. We'll note down some of the big moments here.

5:20pm - Some big names are turning out for Ardern's speech.

The figures spotted by Newshub include former Director-General of Health Sir Ashley Bloomfield, former Prime Ministers Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Helen Clark, Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women's Council, fashion designer Juliette Hogan, Ngāi Tahu elder Sir Tipene O'Regan, businessman Rob Fyfe, and Pike River victims' relatives Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne.

Other former MPs here include Kris Faafoi, Clare Curran, Tracey Martin and Annette King.

5:15pm - We are getting closer to Ardern's speech. It will begin at 5:30pm. You'll be able to watch it on the livestream found above.

5:05pm - After leaving Parliament, Ardern will become New Zealand's special envoy for the Christchurch Call. She's also joined the board of Prince William's Earthshot Prize.

The Christchurch Call was developed in the aftermath of the March 15 shootings to coordinate the work of governments, technology companies and other organisations on eliminating online violent extremist content. 

Ardern told Newshub she asked to keep working on the Christchurch Call because she feels so strongly about the cause.

"I believed it had more to do, and I knew that I would have the time to do it. And I certainly have the passion for it," she said.

She said the approach tech companies took to online extremism has fundamentally changed since the March 15 terror attacks, but there was more good work it could do.

"I also still feel a duty at a personal level to the community who are affected by this tragedy," she said.

Read more here.

4:55pm - Judith Collins, the former National leader who went up against Jacinda Ardern at the 2020 election, on Tuesday said Ardern had been "very significant entity as such in New Zealand politics".

"I think her overseas work has been extraordinary, very much on the level of the David Lange era… Her presence overseas and her ability to be considered a leader internationally from a little country in New Zealand is actually extraordinary.

"At home domestically, other than the COVID response and the mosque response, she hasn't been able to deliver on promises made. That will be her disappointment. 

"But everyone plays their role and I wish her very well and I hope she has really enjoyment work to go to and enjoys the rest of her life."

4:45pm - Speaking to reporters, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said Ardern was able to do her job despite facing misogyny.

"Other wahine are hopefully going to, not be uninspired, be more motivated to step up to those spaces," she said.

Co-leader Rawiri Waititi said it was a "privilege to be in the House at the same time as a global leader who had the pressures of what was happening outside of New Zealand and everybody looking inside to see what moves she was making".

He said he acknowledged her mahi to push Māori and Rainbow kaupapa.

"She was brave enough to have a go."

4:35pm - Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni noted that she came into Parliament at the same time as Ardern in 2008. 

"For me, she is part of the fabric of what it means to work here," she told journalists on Wednesday afternoon.

Sepuloni took on the 2IC role in January. 

"Things move really quickly when they do move. We were really fortunate to have that seamless transition. It did move fast and swift," she said.

"We miss her. We miss her as a human being, we are going to miss her as a human being, as a person, as a friend, as a colleague. We are really grateful to her for the contribution that she made as our leader."

4:25pm - Climate Change Minister James Shaw has spoken about Ardern's departure during the General Debate in Parliament.

"I have always rejected the idea that politics is a matter of absolutes and that, you know, if we can't win everything, then we lose everything. It often requires an ability to see past our differences and to find common ground.

"Over the last [five-and-a-half] years, there is no one who has done more to show us what that means than the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern. I am one of the fortunate few who has had the opportunity to work with her during the course of this Government, and we did not always agree- and sometimes we vehemently disagreed - but there is no doubt that she is one of the most dedicated, authentic, values-driven people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing or the privilege of working with.

"Now, when people ask me if we can do enough quickly enough to meet our emissions reductions targets, I have to remember that before she started as Prime Minister, even the idea of legislated targets seemed completely out of reach.

"She has changed politics, and once the politics changes, the possible outcomes also change. It is in no small part that due to her leadership, her clarity, and her direction, that we are where we are."

James Shaw and Jacinda Ardern.
James Shaw and Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty Images.

4:15pm - Jacinda Ardern posted to Instagram earlier on Wednesday, noting it is a "big day". 

"Spending a few hours packing and sorting papers for the archives, and then this afternoon I give my last speech to parliament (it’s at 5.30pm on Freeview channel 31 if you’re interested in tuning in.) Lots of mixed emotions…and a very long list of things to do!"

4:05pm - Finance Minister Grant Robertson has reflected on the significance of the day and Ardern leaving Parliament. 

"It's a day of mixed emotions for me personally because she is my friend and I can the next moves in her life are ones she are really looking forward to and I see a really relaxed and happy person. On the other side of the coin, we are losing an incredibly valued colleague and someone who I think will go down in history as one of our best Prime Ministers."

The pair came into Parliament together in 2008 and Robertson served as her deputy Prime Minister from 2020 to earlier this year when she resigned.

4pm - Kia ora, good afternoon, and welcome to Newshub's live updates of Jacinda Ardern's valedictory address.

Ardern is expected to address the New Zealand Parliament at 5:30pm with her speech livestreamed above.

Ahead of the speech, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was asked whether he would give Ardern a damehood.

"You know we don't talk about those things before decisions are made on them," he said. "Ultimately, it's the royal prerogative… we don't talk about those things prior to such an event happening."

Ardern told Newshub on Tuesday that ahead of her resignation she did consider whether her standing down may bring some of the "heat out" of the debate.

Hipkins said he hoped politics in New Zealand can be conducted without "that extreme polarisation we see in other democracies around the world".

"I acknowledge Jacinda has been the subject of more vitriol, more anger, more aggression than any recent political leader in New Zealand. I think that's been very, very unfortunate." 

Speaking at his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon, Hipkins said Ardern led New Zealand "exceptionally well through some amazingly complicated challenges" and "New Zealand is a better country for her leadership". 

He noted that she led New Zealand through the March 15 shootings, the Whakaari/White Island eruption, and the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

"The pandemic alone, I think would be one of the biggest challenges any New Zealand Prime Minister has faced during their time in office," Hipkins said.

"I think that Jacinda led us through all of those with dignity, with humility. She had high levels of trust from New Zealanders during that period with good reason."