On the 15th of March 2019, 51 people lost their lives and 49 injured when Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch suburbs were attacked by an extremist shooter.
It was one of the greatest national tragedies that Jacinda Ardern faced after becoming the Prime Minister of New Zealand in 2017. Condemning this heinous assault against humanity, the parliament declared a national mourning period. Ardern, the prime minister, donned a hijab as she visited with survivors and victims’ families in Christchurch, expressing the country’s sympathy with them. Six days after the attacks, Ardern pledged to ban most semiautomatic guns in New Zealand, which became law less than a month later. The government has promised to help survivors and victims’ families.
Her reaction drew widespread acclaim. An image of her embracing a member of the Christchurch Muslim community with the phrase “peace” in English and Arabic was projected onto the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Dubai Burj Khalifa. Her name was among those considered for the Nobel Peace Prize in the year.
On December 9, 2019, a volcanic eruption on White Island in New Zealand killed 22 people. There were 47 persons on the island at the time of the eruption, and 22 perished as a result of the explosion or their injuries; two of the 22 were never seen and were later pronounced dead.
The Prime Minister met with the responders in Whakatāne following the eruption, directed authorities to take the immediate measures to help the affected. Addressing the parliament, she said: “I say to those who have lost and grieve – you are forever linked to our nation, and we will hold you close.” The assistance for the Whakatāne community’s immediate needs were provided through the Whakatāne District Council.
Advent of Covid 19 was one of the worst catastrophes in the human history. The pandemic invaded New Zealand and the first Covid case here was reported on the 28th of February 2020. The nation has lost its battle for the ambitious zero causality target when the first death was reported on the 25th of March 2020. In less than one month’s time New Zealand was set on alert level 4 with the nation going for self-isolation.
Prime Minister oversaw the whole process with strict adherence to the rules to combat the epidemic. Some were critical saying the premier was over reactive. But the different variants of the epidemic invaded the world rendering the economies and health systems of most of the powerful nations paralyzed with the rising death tolls. 6,740,381 people have died so far from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak as of January 20, 2023, while NZ death toll remains at 2437. It is widely accepted that NZ has been successful among the developed countries in maintaining a lower rate of casualties because of the effective measures endorsed by the
The economic fallout of the epidemic has been immeasurable. Protests were at rampage all over the world. In certain quarters of the world there had been political upheavals. Rulers were expelled. Parliaments were burnt down. Factories were shut down. Unemployment escalated. Starvation prevailed. Social unrest was unsurmountable. Now the world is heading to a recession in 2023.
New Zealand was not immune to the consequences of pandemic related issues. When compared to the pre-Covid era, inflation hit high following the prices of consumer items.
Gross national product dropped. External debts increased. Unemployment grew. There were protests in main cities against covid rules and economic related issues. Housing is one of the
major issues not yet adequately addressed. The business community is expecting more challenges in the days to come. But her achievements overweight inevitable setbacks taken place in one of the most difficult periods in the recent past.
It was a strenuous voyage for a political leader. In recognition, as a political leader, Jacinda was ranked among the 100 most powerful women in the world, placed 34 in 2021, shortlisted to be the person of the year in 2019 by the Time, bestowed many well recognized awards including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Harvard University.
We, Sri LankaNZ wish her all the success in her journey ahead.