Respect: PM Ardern leaves stage and sits on floor

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sits with women of Tamavua-i-wai during her visit to the settlement in Suva recently. Picture: ATU RASEA

NEW ZEALAND Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday removed herself from a high podium and took herself to the floor to sit with women from Tamavua-i-wai settlement, a powerful gesture that resonated with all who witnessed the action.

“Please, next time, we sit together,” she said as she made her way to the women, removing her shoes as a sign of respect.

Ms Ardern was at Tamavua-i-wai settlement in Suva yesterday for a site visit of the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) project.

“Please when I next come, please do not put me on a stage. I would rather sit with you, if that’s OK,” Ms Ardern told the residents.

“I feel a little bit like the queen sitting up here.

“So next time we all sit together because if New Zealand is now synonymous here to you, then that’s as it should be.”

Ms Ardern also acknowledged speakers from the settlement, saying she was touched by their words.

“I was touched by your words and from your words I get the feeling, well I hope I’m not being too presumptuous in saying this, I’d like to think now that perhaps I can become now instead of prime minister here, I can just be your friend,” she said.

Meanwhile, yesterday Ms Ardern also announced a $2 million investment to support Fijian communities displaced by climate change.

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