Part of her statement noted that she had “no more in the tank” to perform efficiently as Prime Minister. On Tuesday, the 42-year-old spoke to Maori elders and politicians who gathered in Ratana, north of Wellington.
In her speech she said: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart from the greatest privilege of my life”.
Ardern made her speech when cross-party politicians gathered on their annual visit to the area to celebrate the birth of Maori propher Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.
A number of supporters asked the outgoing PM for photographs and many elders spoke warmly of Ardern.
One told her: “Thanks so much for teaching us to love quickly”.
Ardern claimed she was urged by those at the event to say a few words about her time as leader.
She added: “My overall experience in this job of New Zealand and New Zealanders in this job has been one of love, empathy and kindness.
“I want you to know I leave with a greater love and affection for Aotearoa New Zealand and its people than when I started.”
Tuesday was Ardern’s last day as Prime Minister, with her resignation scheduled for Wednesday.
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She noted that after six years in office, she has “given [her] absolute all” and said: “I know what this job takes, I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.
“It is that simple…But I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job.
“I am leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead, and also, when you are not.”