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Jacinda Ardern is ready for her next chapter. The outgoing prime minister of New Zealand, who unexpectedly announced her resignation last week, made her final appearance as leader of the country on Tuesday.
Along with a group of politicians and Maori elders, Ardern, 42, was accompanied by new Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins, who will succeed her.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the greatest privilege of my life," Ardern, who wore a traditional Maori cloak, said in an emotional address.
The leader, whose resignation goes into effect on Wednesday, said her "overall experience" while leading the country "has been one of love, empathy and kindness."
Now, however, the mother of 4-year-old daughter Neve, whom she shares with her partner Clarke Gayford, is looking ahead to the future.
"I am ready to be lots of things. I'm ready to be a back bench MP (member of parliament)," Ardern said. "I'm ready to be a sister and a mum."
Ardern announced last Thursday that she would be stepping down from her role as leader, saying she would not seek re-election. She was elected prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37, becoming the youngest female head of government in the world at the time.
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"I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It's that simple," Arden said last week.
She explained that she came to the decision after reflecting during the summer break on whether she had the energy to continue leading the country until its next general election, which is scheduled for Oct. 14.
"I had hoped that I would find what I needed to carry on over that period but, unfortunately, I haven't, and I would be doing a disservice to New Zealand to continue."
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On Sunday, after being named as the sole nominee to replace Ardern, incoming PM Hipkins, 44, spoke on behalf of his "very good friend" and criticized the, at times, emphatic pushback she received during her tenure.
Hipkins said that the abuse that Ardern faced "does not represent who we are as a country," according to the BBC.
Hipkins — who has most recently served as leader of the House and minister of education, police, and the Public Service — selected Carmel Sepuloni to be his deputy prime minister, marking the first time a Pacific Islander will serve in the role.
In his comments, the new leader also said a full Cabinet announcement will be made in the near future, but that he plans to keep former Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson on as finance minister.