The New Zealand coat of arms
The former bears an uncanny resemblance to the current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in office since October 26, 2017, in this country of five million inhabitants. Is this merely fortuitous? Given this 40-year-old politician’s meteoric rise, one would think that, at this historical turning point, she somehow embodies her nation. The same could not be said about many politicians - and even fewer female politicians. In France, one could draw parallels with de Gaulle for the post-liberation period, or with Simone Weil, who advocated women’s liberation. We should therefore place Jacinda Ardern in the context of New Zealand's somewhat eventful history before turning to examining her qualities as a politician.
First of all, referring back to the New Zealand coat of arms. The indigenous Maori people were, along with the Afghans, the fiercest adversary the colonial armies of the British Empire ever had to face. It needs to be remembered that the bloody battles against the Maori ended up as a "Peace of the Brave" with the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Despite its flaws, the Treaty of Waitangi granted the indigenous people certain rights that are sorely lacking, for example, in the case of Australia. Currently, 13% of New Zealand's population identifies itself as Maori, and Maori is an official language. 50 years after the treaty, in 1893, New Zealand was the world’s first country to give women the right to vote. Behind these two emblematic events in New Zealand's history lies a demand for reconciliation and consensus, pragmatism, and a certain thirst for equality. In the eyes of New Zealanders these are great attributes of their far away Nation.