New Zealand’s Prime Minister Is Showing the World What Real Leadership Looks Like

Trump, she says, “asked what support the US could provide. My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a press briefing in Wellington, New Zealand, on March 16, 2019. Xinhua/ZUMA Wire

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

It’s been a striking study in contrasts over the past 24 hours: In the aftermath of the New Zealand massacre, President Donald Trump declared that white nationalism was not really a rising threat, but merely a “small group of people that have very very serious problems”—all while failing to offer words of comfort to America’s Muslim community. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meanwhile rejected Trump’s assessment and has taken a decidedly different approach—one of compassion and of action.

“Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities—New Zealand is their home—they are us,” she said in a moving statement in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

On Saturday, Ardern also noted that Trump was among the international leaders who called her to offer support. “He very much wished for his condolences to be passed on to New Zealand,” Ardern said. “He asked what support the US could provide. My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”

When she was asked how Trump responded, she said, “He acknowledged that and agreed.” That Trump—who has frequently called for a ban on Muslims traveling to the US and has repeated anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric—had to be reminded to make such simple gestures is telling.

Finally, and crucially, rather than simply offering thoughts and prayers—Trump’s standard—Ardern has vowed to ban semi-automatic weapons in the country, announcing, “Now is the time for change.” Authorities said there were five guns used in the attack, including two semi-automatic weapons, a lever-action firearm, and two shotguns, and that the primary perpetrator had a gun license acquired in 2017.

“While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change,” Arden said.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend