Delving into Jacinda’s past
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) appears in the first episode of The DNA Detectives. She talks about what she expected to discover and her love of politics.
What were you hoping to find out on this journey?
Jacinda: The Scottish part of my family has always been so strong, in large part because of my nana. I always believed that she came directly from there, mostly because she always had shortbread in the biscuit tin. I think going into this, you have this idea that maybe in your DNA something really sparky or interesting will spring up. What all of us need to appreciate is that behind whatever geographical markers you have, there are some really interesting stories, courageous people, people who did things that in hindsight you think, ‘Gosh that was a brave thing to do’. So I think your origins don’t paint a full picture of who you are. I think it’s people and stories, and that’s what this is about for me.
Do you think there will be any surprises?
I think almost everyone probably has some kind of family secrets that mean you have these bits of a puzzle in your family history that you can’t solve. Being able to piece together who you are and where you’re from is really important.
What draws you to politics?
For me, it’s always just been this desire to do something that helps other people. When I was 25 years old I packed my bags and bought a one-way ticket to New York. I knew one person in the city and I remember when I arrived at the terminal that one person never showed up to pick me up. I remember thinking that probably it wasn’t the greatest plan in the world. I found myself volunteering for a union which was working for homecare workers across New York City, and I just remember that it felt like a really meaningful thing to be doing. I wasn’t working, and felt a little bit lost in a city as big as this, so doing even just a small amount for people who had no rights felt really important.