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A new kind of leadership

  • 06 May 2020
Author Madeleine Chapman may be wondering ‘what if?’. What if she could still be adding chapters to her biography Jacinda Ardern: A new kind of leader until the aftermath of Ardern's tackling COVID-19 in New Zealand?

Chances are it would have given an additional example of the kind of empathetic, courageous leadership with Ardern has become synonymous with across the world. As it is, this Ardern biography is crisp and sharp, explaining the optimism that launched a millennial (and only the second world leader to ever give birth in office) into the highest public office of her land.

‘If it is possible to begin building your social conscience when you are a small child,’ Chapman quotes Ardern, ‘then that is what happened to me.’ As a five-year-old, the author relates, the police officer’s kid and future queen of hearts saw injustice and deep poverty in Murupara and Morrinsville, where she grew up. Kids without shoes, people in sickness without healthcare, people dying from suicide.

Ardern has since taken on social justice issues on global stages. In particular, for Australians who hate their various governments’ deplorable stances on asylum seekers and refugees, Ardern’s assertions of human rights and repeated offers to assist them have not fallen on unreceptive ears.

Back to Ardern’s childhood which, Chapman writes, governs the PM today: ‘I never viewed the world through the lens of politics then,’ Arden says, ‘and in many ways [I] still don’t… I try to view it through the lens of children, people, and the most basic concepts of fairness.’

Life lessons were learnt, skills in negotiation and diplomacy were forged, and schoolyard advocate, studious nerd and council president Jacinda Ardern emerged from her childhood ready to take on the world.

'First and foremost, Ardern gained power, the author attests, by "being a mirror" and "embodying empathy" in a new, progressive model of leadership.'

After a stint working in a fish and chip parlour, ‘the Golden Kiwi’ (I kid you not), Ardern undertook a Bachelor of Communications at the University of Waikato before working her way up through the ranks of Labour.

A painful break with the religion of her family and youth, the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) over the issue of homophobia preceded overseas travel and networking, and Ardern’s tilts at pre-selection and elections.

Chapman views the political hard yards of Ardern in establishing herself while appearing to be effortless. Laughing, listening and knowing the first names of the journos at your media