New Zealand lawmakers banned from TikTok amid data use fears
New Zealand lawmakers and other workers inside the nation's Parliament will be banned from having the TikTok app on their government phones, officials said Friday. The ban, which takes effect at the end of the month, follows similar moves in many other countries. However, New Zealand's ban will apply only to about 500 people in the parliamentary complex, not to all government workers like bans in the U.S. and Britain. Other New Zealand agencies could decide later to impose their own bans. Global concern about the app comes after warnings by the FBI and other agencies that TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance could share TikTok user data — such as browsing history, location and biometric identifiers — with China’s authoritarian government. New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he didn't have TikTok on his phone. “I'm not that hip and trendy,” he told reporters. The New Zealand move came on the advice of government cybersecurity experts, said Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero. He said the app would be removed from all devices with access to the parliamentary network, although officials could make special arrangements for anybody who needed TikTok to perform their democratic duties. “This decision has been made based on our own experts’ analysis and following discussion with our colleagues across government and internationally," Gonzalez-Montero said in a statement. "Based on this information, the service has determined that the risks are not acceptable in the current New Zealand parliamentary environment.” Hipkins said cybersecurity advice came from New Zealand's intelligence agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau. He said New Zealand didn't take a blanket approach to all government workers, and it would be up to each department or agency to make cybersecurity decisions.
New Zealand edge England by 1 run in test cricket thriller
New Zealand completed a dramatic fightback on the last day to beat England by 1 run Tuesday and become only the fourth team in history to win a cricket test after being forced to follow-on. On a day of constant twists and turns, Joe Root scored 95 in a partnership of 121 with Ben Stokes (33) which appeared to have secured England’s victory and a 2-0 win in the two-match series. Root and Stokes were out within a run of each other with 56 runs still needed and the match which had been heading England’s way tilted back in favor of New Zealand with seven wickets down and the lower-order exposed. Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes then made 35, facing down the New Zealand attack and shepherding the tailenders to guide England within sight of victory. But in another twist, Foakes was out with seven runs still needed. Last man James Anderson clubbed a four down the ground which left England two runs from a match and series victory and the crowd holding its collective breath. Then in the last, dramatic moment, Anderson was caught down the leg side by a diving Tom Blundell from the bowling of Neil Wagner. In a defining comeback for Wagner and his short-pitch bowling, he took 4-62, dismissed Root and Stokes and held three catches on the final day to seal New Zealand’s narrowest test win. England twice and India once are the only other teams to have won a test after having to follow. The last occasion was in 2001 when India beat Australia by 171 runs at Eden Gardens. Read: Shakib joins team camp ahead of England series amidst rift with Tamim The result also ended England’s run of six consecutive test wins and leveled the two-match series, allowing New Zealand to avoid its first defeat in a home series since 2017. The New Zealanders were heavily beaten in the first test and were again well behind in the game after the first innings in Wellington. “It’s a special win this and we’ll celebrate what is an amazing achievement,” Wagner said. “I think it’s just the character of the team. We love to fight for one another, find a way and keep on doing the hard yards out there. “The first test we didn’t get on the right side of it and they played well. I thought they played really wellin the first innings here in really tough conditions but we just found a way of contributing and get in a good position and (this) is a special one.” The grassy banks of Wellington’s Basin Reserve were crowded on a workday Tuesday to see the denouement of an already extraordinary match. For the second time in the series, Stokes made an assertive first innings declaration with England 435-9. England then bowled out New Zealand for only 209 to take a 226-run first innings lead. Stokes chose to enforce the follow-on with his attack having bowled 53.2 overs and the second innings became an ordeal as Kane Williamson made 132 and New Zealand batted more than 160 overs to post 483, setting England 258 to win. England came into the final day at 48-1, still needing 210 runs but with the odds on its side and 103 overs in the day. Under Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum and the so-called Bazball approach to the game, England has won six tests while chasing, notably scoring 378 to beat India at Birmingham last year. Read: Fans can get tickets from online store in Ireland series: BCB But when New Zealand took four wickets in the first hour of an extended first session, the equilibrium of the match was disturbed. England lost nightwatchman Ollie Robinson, opener Ben Duckett then Ollie Pope and Harry Brook to consecutive deliveries to slip to 80-5 with 178 still needed. Brook’s wicket was crucial after he made 186 in the first innings for his fourth century in five tests. Root was the guilty party in his dismissal Tuesday, taking a hazardous single and running out Brook before he’d faced a ball. Root and Stokes seemed to have repaired the England innings. Root was the aggressor, reaching his 57th test half century from only 51 balls, while Stokes seemed restricted by an injury to his left knee and made his 33 from 116 balls. But Wagner’s double blow to dismiss them both in consecutive overs likely was the turning point of the match. Foakes’ diligent innings ensured a thrilling finish as the upper hand in the match passed moment by moment from one team to the other. Even England’s Barmy Army of fans was largely rendered silent as they watched the action in almost breathless tension. “It’s obviously very disappointing to get a loss here with the great winter we’ve had,” Stokes said. But “to be able to come away and win four out of five away from home is something we’ll take great pride in. We’ve got a few months off before the Ashes (series against Australia) starts and hopefully we can get back to doing what we love doing.” ___ More AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
3 dead, 1 missing as rain pounds New Zealand’s largest city
Authorities said Saturday that three people had died and at least one was missing after record levels of rainfall pounded New Zealand's largest city, causing widespread disruption. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins flew to Auckland on a military plane after a state of emergency was declared in the region. “Our priority is to ensure that Aucklanders are safe, that they're housed and that they have access to the essential services that they need,” Hipkins said. He said the city was in for a big cleanup and that people should remain indoors if possible. He said a break in the weather could prove temporary, with more heavy rain forecast. “This is an unprecedented event in recent memory," Hipkins said. Friday was the wettest day ever recorded in Auckland, according to weather agencies, as the amount of rain that would typically fall over the entire summer hit in a single day. On Friday evening, more than 15 centimeters (6 inches) of rain fell in just three hours in some places. The rain closed highways and poured into homes. Hundreds of people were stranded at Auckland Airport overnight after the airport stopped all flights and parts of the terminal were flooded. Police said they found one man's body in a flooded culvert and another in a flooded carpark. They said fire and emergency crews found a third body after a landslide brought down a house in the suburb of Remuera. One person remained missing after being swept away by floodwaters, police said. Hipkins said power had been restored to most places, although about 3,500 homes remained without electricity. Video posted online showed chest-deep water in some places. Lawmaker Ricardo Menéndez posted a video of water surging into houses. “We’ve just had to evacuate our home as the water was already rising rapidly and coming in aggressively,” he tweeted. Fire and Emergency New Zealand said crews had responded to more than 700 incidents across the region and staff had taken more than 2,000 emergency calls. “We had every available career and volunteer crew on the road responding to the most serious events,” said district manager Brad Mosby. Mosby said crews had rescued 126 people who were trapped in houses or cars, or who had been involved in vehicle crashes. Air New Zealand said it resumed domestic flights in and out of Auckland on Saturday afternoon, but wasn't yet sure when international flights would resume. “The flooding has had a huge impact our Auckland operations," said David Morgan, the airline's chief operational integrity and safety officer. “We’re working on getting customers to their final destinations and getting our crew and aircraft back in the right place. It might take a few days to get everything back on track.” In a series of updates on Twitter, Auckland Airport said people were able to leave the airport early Saturday for their homes or accommodation after hundreds spent the night in the terminal. “It’s been a long and challenging night at Auckland Airport, we thank everyone for ongoing patience,” the airport wrote. “Unfortunately, due to earlier flooding in the baggage hall, we are currently unable to return checked luggage to you,” the airport wrote. “Your airline will make arrangements for its return at a later time.” The storm also caused an Elton John concert to be canceled just before it was due to start Friday night. A second concert by John that was planned at the stadium on Saturday night was also canceled. About 40,000 people were expected to attend each concert at Mt Smart Stadium. Thousands were already at the venue Friday night when organizers decided to cancel not long before John was due to take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Many concertgoers who had braved the conditions were frustrated the decision hadn't been made hours earlier. Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown defended criticism that his office did not communicate the seriousness of the situation well and held off on declaring an emergency until about 9:30 p.m. Friday. He said the timing of the emergency declaration was guided by experts. “We will review everything that took place,” Brown said. “We've got to make sure we had the coordination, and the consultation with the public, correct.”
Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand PM after unexpected resignation of Jacinda Ardern
Chris Hipkins was sworn in Wednesday as New Zealand's 41st prime minister, following the unexpected resignation last week of Jacinda Ardern. Hipkins, 44, has promised a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the “pandemic of inflation.” He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his Labour Party is trailing its conservative opposition. New Zealand Governor-General Cindy Kiro officiated the brief swearing in ceremony in front of his friends and colleagues after she earlier accepted Ardern's resignation. “This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life,” Hipkins said at the ceremony. “I'm energized and excited by the challenges that lie ahead.” Carmel Sepuloni was also sworn in as deputy prime minister, the first time a person with Pacific Island heritage has taken on the role. She congratulated Hipkins and thanked him for the trust he'd placed in her. After the ceremony, Hipkins said as an aside to reporters: “It feels pretty real now.” Hipkins is known to many by the nickname “Chippy," which fits with his upbeat demeanor and skills as an amateur handyman. Read more: Chris Hipkins confirmed as New Zealand next prime ... He served as education and police minister under Ardern. He rose to public prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he took on a kind of crisis management role. But he and other liberals have long been in the shadow of Ardern, who became a global icon of the left and exemplified a new style of leadership. Ardern last week said she was resigning after more than five years in the role because she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do the job justice. “It's that simple,” she said. On Tuesday she made her final official appearance as prime minister, saying the thing she would miss most was the people because they had been the “joy of the job.” On Wednesday morning, she was greeted with hugs and farewells by dozens of former staff and admirers on Parliament's forecourt as she left the building. Ardern plans to stay on as a backbench lawmaker until April to avoid triggering a special election ahead of the nation’s general election in October. New Zealand’s head-of-state is Britain’s King Charles III, and Kiro is his representative in New Zealand, although these days the nation’s relationship with the monarchy is largely symbolic. Britain's Prince William and wife, Kate, thanked Ardern on Twitter “for your friendship, leadership and support over the years, not least at the time of my grandmother’s death. Sending you, Clarke and Neve our best wishes. W & C” Clarke Gayford is Ardern's fiance and Neve is their 4-year-old daughter.
Chris Hipkins confirmed as New Zealand next prime minister, picks deputy
Chris Hipkins was confirmed Sunday (January 22, 2023) as New Zealand's next prime minister and he chose Carmel Sepuloni as his deputy, marking the first time a person with Pacific Island heritage has risen to that rank. Hipkins got the unanimous support of lawmakers from his Labour Party after he was the only candidate to enter the contest to replace Jacinda Ardern, who shocked the nation Thursday when she announced she was resigning after more than five years as leader. Hipkins will be officially sworn into his new role on Wednesday (January 25, 2023). He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough general election, with opinion polls indicating his party is trailing its conservative opposition. Read more: New Zealand's Ardern, an icon to many, to step down The lack of other candidates for leader indicated that party lawmakers had rallied behind Hipkins to avoid a drawn-out contest and any sign of disunity following Ardern’s departure. In setting out his priorities, Hipkins said he knew many families were struggling due to the “pandemic of inflation” and that the economy would be central to his government's thinking. When asked if he would take on the same transformational approach to government that Ardern had promised after first winning the top job, Hipkins indicated he wanted to get back to basics. Read more: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to leave office next month, sets October election “We will deliver a very solid government that is focused on the bread-and-butter issues that matter to New Zealanders, and that are relevant to the times that we are in now," Hipkins said. "2017 was five-and-a-half years ago, and quite a lot has happened since then.” Like Hipkins, Sepuloni first became a lawmaker 15 years ago and has most recently taken on the social development and employment portfolios as one of the government's top ministers. She said it was “very hard to fathom that a working-class girl” from a small New Zealand town could end up as deputy prime minister. Read More: New Zealand's Ardern has many possibilities for a second act “I want to acknowledge the significance of this for our Pacific community,” Sepuloni said. “I am proudly Samoan, Tongan, and New Zealand European, and represent generations of New Zealanders with mixed heritage." Sepuloni said she’d already been receiving lots of humbling messages about another glass ceiling being smashed. Opposition leader Christopher Luxon told reporters he’d congratulated Hipkins by text. But Luxon said Hipkins and Sepuloni had been part of a government that had “failed spectacularly” to get things done and that after the leadership change, it would be more of the same. Read More: Ardern, rival turn her hot-mic vulgarity into charity’s win
Chris Hipkins will be the next New Zealand prime minister
Education Minister Chris Hipkins is set to become New Zealand’s next prime minister after he was the only candidate to enter the contest Saturday (January 21, 2023) to replace Jacinda Ardern. Hipkins, 44, must still garner an endorsement Sunday from his Labour Party colleagues, but that is just a formality now. An official transfer of power will come in the days to follow. “It’s a big day for a boy from the Hutt,” Hipkins said, referring to the Hutt Valley near Wellington where he grew up. “I’m really humbled and really proud to be taking this on. It is the biggest responsibility and the biggest privilege of my life.” Ardern shocked the nation of 5 million people on Thursday when she announced she was resigning after five-and-a-half years in the top role. Also read: New Zealand's Ardern has many possibilities for a second act The lack of other candidates indicated party lawmakers had rallied behind Hipkins to avoid a drawn-out contest and any sign of disunity following Ardern’s departure. Hipkins will have only a little more than eight months in the role before contesting a general election. Opinion polls have indicated that Labour is trailing its main opponent, the conservative National Party. Hipkins rose to public prominence during the coronavirus pandemic, when he took on a kind of crisis management role. But he and other liberals have long been in the shadow of Ardern, who became a global icon of the left and exemplified a new style of leadership. Just 37 when she became leader, Ardern was praised around the world for her handling of the nation’s worst-ever mass shooting and the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also read: New Zealand's Ardern, an icon to many, to step down But she faced mounting political pressures at home and a level of vitriol from some that previous New Zealand leaders hadn’t faced. Online, she was subject to physical threats and misogynistic rants. “Our society could now usefully reflect on whether it wants to continue to tolerate the excessive polarization which is making politics an increasingly unattractive calling,” wrote former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Fighting back tears, Ardern told reporters on Thursday that she was leaving the position no later than Feb. 7. “I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple,” she said. Read More: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to leave office next month, sets October election Besides holding the education portfolio, Hipkins is also minister for police and the public service, and leader of the House. He is known as a political troubleshooter who has taken on a variety of roles to try to iron out problems created by other lawmakers. But he’s also committed some gaffes of his own, like when he told people during a virus lockdown that they could go outside and “spread their legs,” a comment that drew plenty of mirth on the internet. Hipkins drew a small crowd of clapping onlookers when he talked to reporters outside Parliament. He said he’d come back energized after a summer break, considered himself a hard worker and a straight shooter, and didn’t intend to lose his trademark sense of humor in his new role. He said he wouldn’t be announcing changes to policy or ministerial roles before Sunday’s vote, other than to say Grant Robertson would remain finance minister. Hipkins said he believed he could win the election and paid tribute to Ardern. Read More: Ardern, rival turn her hot-mic vulgarity into charity’s win “Jacinda Ardern has been an incredible prime minister for New Zealand,” Hipkins said. “She was the leader that we needed at the time that we needed it.” A lawmaker for 15 years, Hipkins is considered more centrist than Ardern and colleagues hope that he will appeal to a broad range of voters. Among his biggest challenges during an election year will be convincing voters that his party is managing the economy well. New Zealand’s unemployment rate is relatively low at 3.3%, but inflation is high at 7.2%. New Zealand’s Reserve Bank has hiked the benchmark interest rate to 4.25% as it tries to get inflation under control, and some economists are predicting the country will go into recession this year. Read More: Study in New Zealand: Application process, cost for international students
New Zealand's Ardern has many possibilities for a second act
When Jacinda Ardern announced this week she was stepping down as New Zealand's prime minister, speculation began almost immediately about what she might do for a second act. When she leaves, she will have accumulated 15 years experience as a lawmaker and five-and-a-half years as leader. She will also be just 42 years old. Observers say she has all sorts of career possibilities open to her. Ardern said she was leaving the job because she no longer has “enough in the tank to do it justice” and has no immediate plans for her own future other than to spend more time with her fiancé and 4-year-old daughter. Read more: New Zealand's Ardern, an icon to many, to step down “I’ll have to admit I slept well for the first time in a long time last night," Ardern told reporters Friday, adding that she felt both sadness and relief. Stephen Hoadley, an assistant professor of politics and international relations at the University of Auckland, said he couldn't imagine Ardern would remain at home over the long term, given her energy and skills. “She has the potential, she has the ability, she has the profile, she has the acceptability to do a whole lot of things," Hoadley said. “Give her a few weeks to rest up, and to refill the tank, to use her phrase. But I would imagine by the end of this year, she’ll be off and running on a whole new career line.” Hoadley pointed to the career path of Helen Clark, another former New Zealand prime minister who went on to become a top administrator at the U.N., leading the development program. “Jacinda could be tapped by any number of United Nations, or charitable, or philanthropical, or other kinds of organizations,” Hoadley said. “There are many, many possibilities, and her profile is so high that I think she would have her pick.” Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who first met Ardern in about 2007 and has remained friends, said he was in shock but also not wholly surprised when Ardern told him of her plans to resign. “It's been a really intense five years,” Shaw said. On top of a busy legislative program, Shaw said, Ardern had needed to steer the country through a series of crises, including a mass-shooting at two Christchurch mosques that left 51 people dead, a volcanic eruption that killed 22, and the coronavirus pandemic. On top of that, Ardern also bore the brunt of a growing number of threats, Shaw said, and a toxic, misogynistic online culture that had grown worse in recent years. Read more: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to leave office next month, sets October election “What I hope is that she can get some time at the beach with her family, uninterrupted, for a while,” Shaw said. He said he believes Ardern when she says she doesn’t yet have firm plans for the future. “I think she could do pretty much whatever she wants from this point,” Shaw said. “Jacinda is one of the most selfless, determined, publicly-minded people I have ever met," Shaw added. "So I would imagine that whatever it is, it will be in the public interest.”
New Zealand's Ardern, an icon to many, to step down
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was praised around the world for her handling of the nation’s worst mass shooting and the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, said Thursday she was leaving office. Ardern was facing mounting political pressures at home and a level of vitriol from some that hadn’t been experienced by previous New Zealand leaders. Still, her announcement came as a shock to people throughout the nation of 5 million people. Fighting back tears, Ardern told reporters in Napier that Feb. 7 would be her last day as prime minister. “I am entering now my sixth year in office, and for each of those years, I have given my absolute all,” she said. Ardern became an inspiration to women around the world after first winning the top job in 2017 at the relatively young age of 37. She seemed to herald a new generation of leadership — she was on the verge of being a millennial, had spun some records as a part-time DJ, and wasn’t married like most politicians. To many, she was the antithesis of U.S. President Donald Trump. Read more: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to leave office next month, sets October election In 2018, she became just the second world leader to give birth while holding office. Later that year, she brought her infant daughter to the floor of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. In March 2019, Ardern faced one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history when a white supremacist gunman stormed two mosques in Christchurch and slaughtered 51 people. She was widely praised for the way she empathized with the survivors and New Zealand’s Muslim community in the aftermath. Less than nine months later, she faced another tragedy when 22 tourists and guides were killed when the White Island volcano erupted. Ardern was lauded globally for her country’s initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic. after New Zealand managed to stop the virus at its borders for months. But she was forced to abandon that zero-tolerance strategy as more contagious variants spread and vaccines became widely available. Ardern faced growing anger at home from those who opposed coronavirus mandates and rules. A protest against vaccine mandates that began on Parliament’s grounds last year lasted for more than three weeks and ended with protesters hurling rocks at police and setting fires to tents and mattresses as they were forced to leave. This year, Ardern was forced to cancel an annual barbecue she hosts due to security fears. Ardern last month announced a wide-ranging Royal Commission of Inquiry would look into whether the government made the right decisions in battling COVID-19 and how it could better prepare for future pandemics. A report is due next year. Some experts said that sexist attitudes played a role in the anger directed at Ardern. But her government also faced criticism that it had been big on ideas but lacking on execution. Supporters worried it hadn’t made promised gains on increasing housing supply and reducing child poverty, while opponents said it was not focusing enough on crime and the struggling economy. Farmers protested against plans to tax cow burps and other greenhouse gas emissions. Ardern had been facing tough reelection prospects. Her center-left Labour Party won reelection in 2020 with a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have put her party behind its conservative rivals. Ardern said the role required having a reserve to face the unexpected. “But I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job,” she said. “I am leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead, and also, when you are not.” She said her time in office had been fulfilling but challenging. Read more: Ardern, rival turn her hot-mic vulgarity into charity’s win “I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple,” she said. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Ardern “has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength.” “She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities,” Albanese tweeted. “Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many and a great friend to me,” he added. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Ardern on Twitter for her friendship and “empathic, compassionate, strong, and steady leadership.” Ardern charted an independent course for New Zealand. She tried to take a more diplomatic approach to China than neighboring Australia, which had ended up feuding with Beijing. In an interview with The Associated Press last month, she’d said that building relationships with small Pacific nations shouldn’t become a game of one-upmanship with China. Ardern on Thursday also announced that New Zealand’s 2023 general elections would be held on Oct. 14, and that she would remain a lawmaker until then. It’s unclear who will take over as prime minister until the election. Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson announced that he won’t contest the leadership of the Labour Party, throwing the competition open. Labour Party lawmakers will vote for a new leader on Sunday. If no candidate gets at least two-thirds support from the caucus, then the leadership contest will go to the wider party membership. Ardern has recommended the party chose her replacement by the time she finishes in the role on Feb. 7. New Zealand Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon said Ardern had been a strong ambassador for the country on the world stage. He said that for his party “nothing changes” and it remains intent on winning the election and to "deliver a government that can get things done for the New Zealand people.” Ardern said she didn’t have any immediate plans after leaving office, other than family commitments with her daughter, Neve, and her fiancé Clarke Gayford, after an outbreak of the virus thwarted their earlier wedding plans. “And so to Neve, Mum is looking forward to being there when you start school this year,” Ardern said. “And to Clarke, let’s finally get married.”
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to leave office next month, sets October election
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose empathetic handling of the nation’s worst mass-shooting and health-driven response to the coronavirus pandemic led her to become an international icon but who faced mounting criticism at home, said Thursday she was leaving office. Fighting back tears, Ardern told reporters in Napier that Feb. 7 will be her last day as prime minister. “I am entering now my sixth year in office, and for each of those years, I have given my absolute all,” she said. She also announced that New Zealand’s next general elections would be held on Oct. 14, and that she would remain a lawmaker until then. It’s unclear who will take over as prime minister until the election. Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson announced he wouldn’t be contesting for the leadership of the Labour Party, throwing the competition open. Read more: New Zealand to decide on lowering voting age from 18 to 16 Ardern described her job as among the most privileged but challenging and said doing it required having a reserve to face the unexpected. She said she no longer had that reserve to serve another term. She said her time in office has been fulfilling but challenging. “But I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job. I am leaving because with such a privileged role, comes responsibility, the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead, and also, when you are not. I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple,” she said. Ardern had been facing tough election prospects. Her liberal Labour Party won reelection two years ago in a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have put her party behind its conservative rivals. She was lauded globally for her country’s initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic after New Zealand managed for months to stop the virus at its borders. But that zero-tolerance strategy was abandoned once it was challenged by new variants and vaccines became available. Read more: New Zealand to remove pandemic mandates as omicron wanes She faced tougher criticism at home that the strategy was too strict. Ardern in December announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry would look into whether the government made the right decisions in battling COVID-19 and how it can better prepare for future pandemics. Its report is due next year. In March 2019, Ardern faced one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history when a white supremacist gunman stormed two mosques in Christchurch and slaughtered 51 people. She was widely praised for the way she embraced the survivors and New Zealand’s Muslim community in the aftermath.
Natural, manmade factors behind New Zealand’s hottest year
New Zealand had its hottest year on record in 2022, beating a mark set just a year earlier thanks to a combination of natural weather cycles and manmade global warming, the agency that monitors temperatures said Wednesday. The nation’s top four hottest years have all been recorded since 2016, and scientists don’t see the trend reversing. Records are being broken around the globe, with Spain and Britain among other nations to also hit new highs in 2022. And as well as being warm, 2022 was also one of New Zealand’s wettest years. August storms flooded rivers, triggered landslides and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate. In October, two of the country’s largest ski areas were placed into a type of bankruptcy proceeding following a disastrous winter season with barely any snow. Also Read: UK saw hottest-ever year in 2022 as Europe's climate warms The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, which has been recording temperatures since 1909, said the average temperature across the country in 2022 was 13.8 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit). That was more than 1.2 degrees Celsius above the long-term average and beat the previous record by 0.2 degrees Celsius. Chris Brandolino, a principal scientist with the agency, said the high temperatures were driven by a combination of weather cycles including the La Niña system, which brings cooler-than-normal ocean temperatures to the tropical Pacific and warmer air to New Zealand. He said manmade factors also contributed. “Climate change continues to influence New Zealand’s long-term temperature trend,” Brandolino told reporters. He said the levels of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere near Wellington keep rising. “Unfortunately you can see that trend, dating back to before 2014, continues to go upward and in the wrong direction,” he said. Brandolino said there was no discernable effect on last year’s weather from the massive eruption of a volcano in Tonga. He said he expects the first few months of 2023 to continue being warmer and wetter than normal, and for temperatures over time to keep rising. “It’s hard to see us breaking from the trend that we are on,” Brandolino said.