Jacinda Ardern is quitting as New Zealand prime minister ahead of this year’s election saying she no longer has “enough in the tank” to lead.
The shock announcement comes as polling indicates her Labour Party party faces a difficult path to re-election on 14 October.
Ms Ardern choked up as she detailed how six “challenging” years in the job had taken a toll.
Labour MPs will vote to find her replacement on Sunday.
Ms Ardern, 42, said she had taken time to consider her future over the summer break, hoping to find the heart and energy to go on in the role
Ms Ardern will step down by 7 February. If no would-be successor garners the support of two-thirds of the party room, the vote will go to Labour’s lay membership.
Ms Ardern became the youngest female head of government in the world when she was elected prime minister in 2017, aged 37.
And a year later she became the second elected world leader to ever give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990.
She steered New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic and its ensuing recession, the Christchurch mosque shootings, and the White Island volcanic eruption.
Ms Ardern said the past five-and-a-half years had been the “most fulfilling” of her life, but leading the country during “crisis” had been difficult.
“These events… have been taxing because of the weight, the sheer weight and continual nature of them. There’s never really been a moment where it’s ever felt like we were just governing
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described Ms Ardern as a leader of intellect, strength and empathy.
“Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many and a great friend to me,” he wrote.
Canada’s leader Justin Trudeau said she had made an “immeasurable” difference to the world.
But while Ms Ardern was often seen as a political star globally, opinion polls suggest she was increasingly unpopular at home