It means people will now call her Dame Jacinda.
Ardern was made a Dame Grand Companion, the second-highest honour in New Zealand, as part of King Charles III's Birthday Honours. It means people will now call her Dame Jacinda. Royal honourees are typically chosen twice a year in New Zealand by the prime minister and signed off by Charles, the British king who is also recognised as New Zealand's king.
Ardern was just 37 when she became prime minister in 2017, and was seen as a global icon of the left.
She shocked New Zealanders in January when she said she was stepping down as leader after more than five years because she no longer had "enough in the tank” to do it justice.
She was facing mounting political pressures at home, including for her handling of COVID-19, which was initially widely lauded but later criticised by those opposed to mandates and rules.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who succeeded Ardern, said she was being recognised for her service during "some of the greatest challenges our country has faced in modern times.”
"Leading New Zealand’s response to the 2019 terrorist attacks and to the COVID-19 pandemic represented periods of intense challenge for our 40th prime minister, during which time I saw firsthand that her commitment to New Zealand remained absolute," Hipkins said in a statement.
Fifty-one Muslim worshippers were killed during Friday prayers in the 2019 attack at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist gunman.
Within weeks of the attack, Ardern led major changes to New Zealand's gun laws by banning assault weapons. More than 50,000 guns were handed over to police during a subsequent buyback scheme.
Ardern said she was in two minds about whether to accept the award because much of what she was being recognised for were experiences that were collective to all New Zealanders.
"So for me this is about my family, my colleagues and all those who supported me to do that incredibly rewarding job," she told 1News.
Ardern will be temporarily joining Harvard University later this year after she was appointed to dual fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School. She has also taken on an unpaid role combatting online extremism.
Also recognised in the King's Birthday Honours list was rugby coach Wayne Smith, who helped lead both men's and women's rugby teams representing New Zealand to World Cup victories.
In keeping with tradition, Britain's Queen Camilla was given the top award by being appointed to the Order of New Zealand.Associated Press
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced a new bill to parliament on Friday that aims to further tighten gun laws, as the country marks six months since the mass shooting in Christchurch that killed 51 Muslim worshippers
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that she is stepping down is not only dramatic, but more than that she has shown that what a new generation politician is like. She is indeed a new generation politician, who became prime minister at the age of 37, and called it a day when she is 42.
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