NZ's Ardern burnishes leadership | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, March 18, 2019

NZ's Ardern burnishes leadership

The calm and compassion shown by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in response to the killing of 50 Muslims by a suspected white supremacist has burnished the credentials of a leader whose youth and celebrity had given critics' doubts.

In the hours after the carnage in Christchurch on Friday left New Zealanders reeling, the 38-year-old Ardern struck all the right notes.

She promptly labelled the worst peacetime mass killing in New Zealand as terrorism, and set about reassuring a nation that has been largely unscathed by the violence and fears that have afflicted other countries in the past two decades.

A day after the attack, Ardern led a multi-party group to visit grieving families and Muslim community members.

Wearing a black head scarf, she hugged relatives and let them set the pace and agenda as she listened and offered comfort.

"The prime minister, when she came wearing her scarf, that was big for us," said Dalia Mohamed, who was mourning Hussein Mustafa, the father-in-law of her daughter and a volunteer at the Al Noor mosque where more than 40 people died.

Ardern also promptly made tightening gun laws, which may prove politically difficult, a priority for her government.

"Ardern's performance has been extraordinary - and I believe she will be strongly lauded for it both domestically and internationally," said political commentator Bryce Edwards of Victoria University in Wellington.

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