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.

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