Jacinda Ardern: What has marked the political journey of Labour's youngest ever leader?

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1 NEWS

In the wake of Andrew Little's abrupt exit as one of Labour’s least popular leaders, the contrasting rise of Jacinda Ardern through the party ranks has taken another unprecedented leap.

Ardern was saying very little as she arrived at parliament ahead of caucus vote.
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At 37, Ms Arden is the Labour Party’s youngest ever leader.

But what marks the personal journey that has led Ms Ardern to assume this historic position in New Zealand politics?

For one, Arden started her association with the Labour Party young, becoming a member at 17.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Waikato, Ms Arden spent time in the offices of Phil Goff and Helen Clark as a researcher.

In 2008 she was elected as a Labour list MP, the youngest sitting member in parliament at the time, and appointed as spokesperson for Youth Affairs by then leader Mr Goff.

The former Labour Party leader says Jacinda Ardern has his backing "100 per cent" to become the new party leader.
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Re-elected as a list MP in the 2011 and 2014 elections, Ms Ardern contested, and convincingly won, the Mount Albert by-election in February this year. 

Shortly after this, on March 7 2017, Ms Ardern was appointed as the youngest deputy leader of the Labour Party at 36.

However, despite this metoric political rise, Ms Ardern's personal history does not conform to any conventional straight-laced public figure.

Andrew Little made the sudden announcement at a press conference this morning.
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Raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ms Arden left the religion in 2005, citing a conflict between those beliefs and her political values.

Ms Ardern's partner is radio and TV personality Clarke Gayford, who she was connected with after Mr Gayford wrote to her about a constituency issue, and they met over coffee to discuss it.

Ms Ardern's political aspirations, too, have been portrayed by her as uncalculated.

Prior to becoming deputy leader in 2015 she claimed, she hadn't "put any thought into" the prospect.

And in 2015 she casually announced she was too "selfish" to take the job as Labour leader.

But as evident, political titles, and the state of mind required for them, are fast moving and fluid in Ms Arden's career.

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