Jacinda Ardern has been sworn in as New Zealand’s prime minister – and says she will lead a government that is active, focused, empathetic and strong.
She has outlined an ambitious environmental agenda which includes planting 100 million trees each year, ensuring the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy, and reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the year 2050
Ardern has also promised to make significant changes in the nation of nearly five million people, including banning foreign buyers from purchasing homes, holding a referendum to legalise recreational marijuana, and reducing immigration.
Ardern and other senior lawmakers attended the ceremony in Wellington on Thursday and took their oaths before Patsy Reddy, the governor-general.
They then greeted several hundred well-wishers in front of the parliament.
“I want to start by saying it is an enormous privilege and an honour to stand with these wonderful people here in front of you today, in front of your house with your government,” Ardern told the crowd.
“I want to put emphasis on the word ‘your’ government.”
At 37 years old, Ardern is the South Pacific nation’s youngest leader in more than 150 years. She is the nation’s third female prime minister and 40th leader overall.
Her liberal Labour Party did not win the most votes in the September election, but managed to find enough common ground with two smaller parties to form a government.
The conservative National Party won the previous three elections and finished with the most votes, but now finds itself on the opposition benches.
Ardern told the crowd she understood that not everyone voted for her but vowed to be a leader for everyone.
“This will be a government for all New Zealanders,” she said.
Ardern’s Labour Party formed a coalition with the small, nationalist New Zealand First party. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, 72, will serve as deputy prime minister and foreign minister. The coalition will also get support from the liberal Green Party.
Ardern has been compared to other young, charismatic leaders such as President Emmanuel Macron in France and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada.