While New Zealand is a relatively unthreatened nation on the international playing field, the nation has various aspects domestically that require addressing. In tune with Ardern’s empathy in what she preaches, Ardern has made sure to direct some of this towards elevating standards of living and wellness for all, including those in gangs. The matter of the fact is that many in gangs offer a form of financial and emotional support to their members that they struggle to find elsewhere in their communities and families. This acts as an indicator to Ardern that something is missing, and so has worked to offer support through the government.
As for terrorism, the Christchurch terrorist attack was a usually brutal and heavy event for New Zealand. However, the reaction through Ardern’s government was met by equal weight in force to prevent any such attacks happening again not just in New Zealand, but around the world, ignoring the excuse of an isolated incident.
Jacinda’s personal battleground- NZ’s Domestic Gangs
Gangs in New Zealand are very prominent, particularly among the indigenous. Ardern grew up until the age of 8 in a town called Murupara where a major gang culture remains prevalent. This made her feel the effects of colonisation and economic crises and see first hand how the marginalized minority communities witness unemployment and poverty. Hence, these have been vocally recognized by Arden and it relates to her need to appease the indigenous Māori community.
Ardern’s efforts in terms of this can be seen in her Wellbeing Budget are allocated to tackling just those symptoms. The generous reallocation of resources out of empathy and kindness is what the Maori community needs, and even more so, the gang community.
Arden’s take on Terrorism after Christchurch Attacks
Within a month in direct response to the attack Ardern had pushed a bill through Parliament banning military-style assault weapons and started a buy-back scheme of such now-banned weapons. Marking the six month anniversary of the attack, Ardern also successfully established tighter rules such as license renewal for gun ownership and a registry tracking all firearms throughout the nation. The National Party and gun lobby groups in New Zealand have attempted to push these efforts to the back of Ardern’s agenda but without success.
Ardern initiated the “Christchurch Call to Action Summit” shortly after the terror attack of Christchurch together with French President Emannuel Macron. The Christchurch Call is one of its first in binding together not just the government with the aspect of national security, but in involving major media and tech companies that are often used by terrorists and can equally be used by governments in prevention and active counteraction.
Once again, Ardern’s efforts can be traced to her focus on empathy and dedication to lead positively by example. Given the loose laws at the time in regards to firearms, any inaction afterwards would have not only been seen as a move of non-recognition of the problem but also completely counter-empathetic. The move was authentically Jacinda Ardern, as a signal of solidarity as opposed to empty words unaccompanied by effective change, praised as unusual yet powerfully demonstrative in politics.
Arden’s Military involvement in Covid-19
After 24 consecutive days of no new cases of infection in the nation, two cases were imported into the nation in what many described as carelessness and overconfidence. In response, Ardern then decided to bring in the military to reinforce the systems in place, once more putting her perfectionist nature on display. This is the first time that Ardern has turned to the military or reinforcing security measures, acting as a message of just how seriously she is taking the pandemic. New Zealand’s habit of otherwise refraining from using the military or other security forces as much as possible shows Ardern’s willingness to deviate from both the established norm in the nation and in her habitual reactions when something she deems as significant is on the line.
The unexpected decision to turn to the military shows Ardern’s willingness to deviate from her norm particularly when it comes at an image cost – be it for the nation or Ardern personally. Given the immense praise and reaction that Ardern personally garnered in her COVID-19 response, it is likely the embarrassment that Ardern’s personal image faced, where her actions could be seen as failing, that Ardern decided to challenge conventional constraints to protect her image, as well as the nation’s.