New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has again been praised internationally this week after her heartfelt response to the White Island volcano tragedy.
If there’s one leadership trait that will always shine above all others, it’s showing up when the going gets tough.
This week’s devastating events on New Zealand’s White Island have again shown the world the difference a leader can make to a hideous situation by simply ‘being there’.
The morning after the news broke, Ms Ardern was in Tauranga hugging first responders and emergency response staff with genuine empathy and concern for everyone affected by what the New Zealand PM described as a “calamity.”
Described as “a class act”, she was there on the ground to listen to first-hand accounts, take the advice of the experts around the recovery mission and praise everyone who had gone above and beyond to ensure the disaster had not been worse.
▶️ New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern met with first responders of the White Island volcanic eruption, Tuesday, December 10. (AFP)
— Global Analytica (@AnalyticaGlobal) December 10, 2019
While perhaps it is the same human response most of us would expect from any world leader who is employed to care about its people’s wellbeing, it’s important to note that Ms Ardern is no ordinary leader of a country.
Compared to many of today’s world’s leaders, she is extraordinarily humble in so many ways and continues to set the benchmark for doing the right thing.
Immediately after the Christchurch massacre, Ms Ardern was immediately on the scene to support the victim’s families and the wider community. At the time she also strongly rejected any “extremist ideology” behind the attack, saying:
“They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.”
Not surprisingly, her response was applauded then by those watching events unfold from around the world and this week the response, particularly on social media, has been just as gushing.
And rightly so.
I listened to Jacinda Ardern’s presser on the way home from work in regards to NZ’s volcanic eruption today. As a true leader should, answered questions measured, calm and responsibly,and left the technical questions to the experts.. . pic.twitter.com/56qtxeFPId
— 💧🌱Scruffymurphy (@Scruffymurphy2) December 9, 2019
NZ PM front and centre after a natural disaster. Not comfortably ensconced at home. How good is Jacinda Ardern?
— John Little (@johnlittle) December 9, 2019
Unprecedented, horrendous events like Christchurch and White Island transcend politics and in the immediate aftermath, solely require a leader to show up and be there to support all those affected.
There should never be any finger-pointing nor blame game for political point-scoring.
The White Island eruption is an extraordinary event for New Zealand that has made the world headlines for all the wrong reasons and will undoubtedly come with serious questions around adventure tourism and its safety legislation.
Having a leader in Ms Ardern should ensure that brand New Zealand can tackle and work through these issues collectively, honestly and with the level of pragmatism and humanity they deserve.
Just as it did in the wake of the Christchurch disaster.
— Roger Sampson (@TheWondersNatur) December 10, 2019
At the time of writing this story on Thursday, seven of those confirmed dead in the tragedy are Australians alongside tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman from New Zealand.
There are a further 10 Australians who are still missing and presumed deceased.
It’s disappointing to note that to date, PM Scott Morrison has still not made the short trip over to New Zealand – thus showing a lack of priorities and care that feels reprehensible given the of the vast majority of Australian lives lost in the disaster.
All of us at Karryon send our thoughts and condolences to everyone involved in the White Island tragedy.
For the latest live updates on the White Island tragedy visit: www.theguardian.com/world/white-island-volcano
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