It’s not every day that an earthquake strikes when you’re being interviewed live on-air, but New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern took it all in her stride.
Empathy. Honesty. An ability to communicate clearly and without guile to her people.
There are many reasons why New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern has shown herself to be a rare creature in the world of global politics and now we can add “calm in a crisis” to the list.
Having already deftly handled a regional outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic – New Zealand “effectively eliminated” the illness through strict lockdown measures introduced in mid-March – Ardern proved her crisis credentials in an entirely different context today, when an earthquake broke out while she was being interviewed live on-air.
Prime Minister Ardern was midway through an interview with Ryan Bridge, host of Newshub’s AM Show, when the effects of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake was felt in her studio in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington.
“We’re just having a bit of an earthquake here, Ryan,” Ardern remarked, in what surely counts as one of the world’s most carefully articulated understatements.
“Quite a decent shake here,” she added, looking around her as the TV camera jolted. “But if you see things moving behind me, the Beehive [the name given for the Executive Wing of New Zealand Parliament Buildings] moves more than most.”
The earthquake struck about 90 kilometres north of the capital, Wellington, but its effects were felt across the country. It lasted around 15 seconds.
Asked whether she was OK to continue the interview after the quake subsided, Ardern said casually: “We’re fine… I’m not under any hanging lights. I look like I’m in a structurally sound place.”
She then gave a thumbs up signal to the camera to indicate that all was good.
Although New Zealand is all too familiar with the devastating impact of earthquakes, thankfully no injuries or damage was reported as a result of this latest event.
For anyone who has followed Ardern’s political career, this genius TV clip is yet more proof that she is the kind of leader we could all do with when the going gets tough.
Not only was she impressively unruffled as the quake took hold, her sense of calm also translated to the host and TV audiences watching at home.
Ardern has long been praised for her refreshingly easygoing and relatable approach to high office. The prime minister’s compassionate attitude has drawn particular attention during the recent coronavirus outbreak, from a sweet Easter Bunny message to worried children to her decision to take a pay cut in solidarity with those affected by the crisis.
In fact, if we could all have a slice of Ardern’s calm and empathetic spirit in our national leaders, the world would surely be a better place.