New Zealand leader triumphs abroad, faces pressures at home

FILE - In this April 19, 2018 file photo, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford arrive in the East Gallery at Buckingham Palace in London as Queen Elizabeth II hosts a dinner during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via AP, File)
FILE - In this April 18, 2018 file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, left, meets New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 10 Downing Street during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe. She met with the leaders of Germany and France and got support for a free trade agreement. She was applauded in Paris when she explained that in seeking a greener future, New Zealand had stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration. And she was named in Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein,File)
FILE - In this April 17, 2018 file photo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, left, are pictured behind blossoms as they attend a military welcome ceremony in Berlin, Germany. As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn,File)
FILE - In this April 20, 2018 file photo, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, left, talks to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they arrive for the the second day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government 2018 for a behind closed doors meeting in Windsor, England. As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein,File)
FILE - In this April 19, 2018 file photo, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, left, is greeted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during a private audience at Buckingham Palace in London. As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe. She met with the leaders of Germany and France and got support for a free trade agreement. She was applauded in Paris when she explained that in seeking a greener future, New Zealand had stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration. And she was named in Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP, File)
FILE - In this April 19, 2018 file photo, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sips on a drink as she delivers a speech at a dinner hosted by Queen Elizabeth II, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace in London. As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this April 16, 2018 file photo, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, left, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris. As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe. She met with the leaders of Germany and France and got support for a free trade agreement. She was applauded in Paris when she explained that in seeking a greener future, New Zealand had stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration. And she was named in Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe.

Ardern met with the leaders of Germany and France and got support for a free trade agreement. She was applauded in Paris when she explained that in seeking a greener future, New Zealand had stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration. And she was named in Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people.

For many New Zealanders, an image defined the trip: Ardern wearing an indigenous Maori cloak and smiling as she and her partner Clarke Gayford arrived at Britain's Buckingham Palace.

But back home, Ardern faces political pressures.

Some people have criticized her oil and gas policy, including New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom, who said it was a "kick in the guts" for people living in the oil-rich Taranaki region.

A recent opinion poll indicated that support for Ardern's liberal Labour Party had slipped behind the conservative opposition National Party.

Asked Tuesday if she was worried she might be more popular abroad than at home, Ardern said it was of "no value or benefit" for her to be popular in places like the U.K.

"I need to focus on domestic issues and domestic politics and making sure I satisfy New Zealand voters," she said. "The rest is immaterial."

Ardern said one of her primary goals on her Europe trip was getting French President Emmanuel Macron to back the idea of a free-trade deal between the European Union and New Zealand.

Trade expert Stephen Jacobi said it was a significant diplomatic win for Ardern to get support from Macron ahead of an EU meeting next month to consider a mandate for such a deal.

"I think getting such a strong, unequivocal statement from the president was important," Jacobi said.

He said any deal is likely to take at least another two years to complete.

In an address last week to the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Ardern described how 10 years ago she was booed in a public meeting when she urged action on global warming, but that sentiments had changed: "My generation will be shaped by climate change," she said.

In Time magazine, Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of "Lean In," wrote that the 37-year-old Ardern, who is pregnant, was changing the political game.

"In a world that too often tells women to stay small, keep quiet — and that we can't have both motherhood and a career — Jacinda Ardern proves how wrong and outdated those notions of womanhood are," Sandberg wrote.

Ardern has no more overseas trips planned ahead of her June due date. She intends to have deputy Winston Peters fill in for six weeks after she gives birth before returning to work.

Similar News

Australian official rejects criticisms of China investor ban

Aug 12, 2016

Australia's treasurer has rejected accusations that the true reason his government plans to ban Chinese bidders from leasing a Sydney electricity grid is to appease influential lawmakers with xenophobic views

Ali tribute book to be released by Jeter imprint

Aug 11, 2016

A very great athlete will help pay tribute to "The Greatest": Derek Jeter's publishing imprint is set to release "Muhammad Ali Unfiltered." Publication is scheduled for October

Global oil demand to cool, oversupply is ending, agency says

Aug 11, 2016

Global demand for oil will grow less than previously expected next year due to a weaker economy, though the oversupply of the market is ending, the International Energy Agency said Thursday

Broaden