Jacinda Ardern denies quitting over criticism she faced as Prime Minister

Before going to Government House in Wellington on Wednesday to step down, she said she was ready to be “a backbench MP … a sister and a mother”.

Her daughter Neve is 4 years old and starts school in June.

“You won’t find me commenting on domestic politics — I’ve had my day,” she added.

She said she left with more affection for New Zealanders than when she became Prime Minister: “I didn’t think that was possible.”

Ms Ardern also paid tribute to the new Labor leader, Chris Hipkins, who was also in attendance.

“You knew me as Aunt, I hope you know him as Chippy,” she said, referring to Hipkins’ nickname.

She said the only real advice she could give was “You do it.”

“It’s up to him to create his own space to be his own kind of leader,” Ms Ardern said.

The emotional gathering was a fitting farewell to a woman who not only suffered a vicious level of abuse, but also evoked an almost religious-like fervor in some.

The New Zealand Herald reported how her supporters “crushed against each other, desperate for a moment with the former leader”.

“We are sad,” one of them confessed to Mrs. Ardern as she walked by.

“Touch her like Jesus, touch her dress,” another woman urged her friend.

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