New Zealand's Ardern bids emotional farewell on last day as prime minister

By Lucy Craymer WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday bid an emotional farewell on her last day as prime minister, speaking of the kindness and empathy New

Zealanders have shown her, but said she was ready to be a sister and a mother. Days after stunning the world by announcing she had "no more in the tank" to lead the country

and would step down, the 42-year-old arrived at a gathering of politicians and Maori elders in the small town of Ratana, north of the capital Wellington, and was instantly

surrounded by supporters seeking photographs. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the greatest privilege of my life," Ardern told the gathering in a

speech. She will resign on Wednesday and be replaced by the new Labour party leader, Chris Hipkins. Ardern, along with Hipkins and opposition politicians, were making

an annual visit to Ratana, where a weeklong celebration is held for the birth of Maori prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana. Wearing a black dress with her shoulders covered in

a traditional Maori cloak, called korowai, she led members of her party onto the community grounds as a brass band played. The speeches and accompanying songs and dances that

followed saw elders speak with humour and warmth about Ardern. "Thanks so much for teaching us to love quickly," one elder told Ardern. Ardern responded, saying she

that hadn't planned to speak but that those there refused to give her an out. "My overall experience in this job of New Zealand and New Zealanders in this job has been one

of love, empathy and kindness,” she said.