Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty says the Labour Party can still win the election without Jacinda Ardern.
Ardern announced her resignation yesterday afternoon, saying her last day in the role will be no later than February 7.
“I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus, a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges,” she said.
Ardern said she had hoped to find a way to prepare for not just another year, but another term, but she hadn’t been able to.
“This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life. But it has also had its challenges.
“Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.”
McAnulty said he was blindsided by the announcement and only learned of Adern’s resignation early yesterday morning.
He said Ardern had “slugged her guts out” for New Zealand for more than five years.
She had led New Zealand through a volcanic eruption, a terrorist attack, and a pandemic, he said.
“Regardless of people’s politics, I hope people give her
the recognition she deserves.
“On a personal level, she has been a very dear friend, and I wish her and her family all the best.”
As for Labour’s election prospects, “It’s not just about the leader; it’s about what the party represents,” he said.
“So far, all the Nats have are complaints. While I am not complacent and will continue to work really hard for the region, I do believe that we will win.”
Ardern will remain as MP for Mt Albert in Auckland until April to “spare the country a by-election”.
McAnulty did not respond to questions about whether he would be putting up his hand for the role of Prime Minister.
The general election date has been set for October 14.