Weekend Herald

Adu­la­tion, ego check for Ardern

- Amelia Wade Jacinda Ardern · New Zealand · Kawakawa · Moerewa · Friedensreich Hundertwasser · Andrew Little · Kelvin Davis · Hawke's Bay

Jacinda ma­nia reached the win­ter­less North yes­ter­day on a rare dreary day for a re­gion ner­vous the sum­mer could bring an­other de­struc­tive drought.

Not 10 minutes into Ardern’s jam­packed agenda was she de­clared the “Queen of New Zealand” by one of the speak­ers at the open­ing of the lon­gawaited Hun­dert­wasser- in­spired com­mu­nity hub in Kawakawa.

The Te Hononga build­ing has been 12 years in the mak­ing af­ter two sets of fund­ing from the Pro­vin­cial Growth Fund to­talling more than $ 18m.

And it ap­peared ev­ery­one in the small Far North town showed up for its open­ing cer­e­mony, and at least eight peo­ple gave speeches.

The crush of fans then de­scended on Ardern as she in­tro­duced her­self to the ap­pren­tices who’d built the build­ing. They came bear­ing gifts, paint­ings, hugs and self­ies and even fol­lowed her into the toi­let as she ad­mired it.

The mob was a slight in­con­ve­nience for Jus­tice Min­is­ter An­drew Lit­tle, who ac­tu­ally needed to use the bath­room.

Next on the itin­er­ary was the pol­icy an­nounce­ment un­der the kauri canopy – an hour roundtrip from Kawakawa – where Ardern, Lit­tle, Po­lice Min­is­ter Stu­art Nash, Cor­rec­tions Min­is­ter Kelvin Davis and Biose­cu­rity Min­is­ter Damien O’Con­nor stood shoul­der- to- shoul­der and un­veiled two very dif­fer­ent poli­cies at once.

The first was a pledge to spend $ 32m over five years to fight kauri dieback.

The other was a law and or­der pol­icy promis­ing to ex­tend a suc­cess­ful meth treat­ment pro­gramme to 4000 more peo­ple, set up an­other al­co­hol and drug court in Hawke’s Bay, help Ma ¯ ori women pris­on­ers re­ha­bil­i­tate and scrap the three strikes law.

On a visit to the Te Ara Oranga pro­gramme in Mo­erewa, many thanked Ardern for vis­it­ing – but it wasn’t with­out an ego- check.

One man in­volved in the com­mu­nity- led Waipuna Ora re­cov­ery pro­gramme had watched Ardern be­come Prime Min­is­ter while he was in prison.

“I thought, ‘ Far, she’s do­ing al­right’. But you’re a lot smaller in real life.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand