Ardern reveals Little asked her to take over leadership six days before resigning
Jacinda Ardern has revealed former leader Andrew Little first asked her to take over the reins six days before he resigned but she told him to "stick it out".
At the Blackball 'Formerly Hilton Hotel' – the birthplace of the Labour movement – Ardern was questioned by a local as to why she had ended up in the job.
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For the first time Ardern spoke of Little approaching her on July 26 – her birthday – and saying he didn't think he could turn things around for the party and she should take over as leader. She refused and told him to "stick it out".
Two days later Labour knew a One News Colmar Brunton poll was set to reveal the party had hit a low of 24 per cent and their own polling had Labour crashing to 23 per cent.
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By August 1, six days after first speaking to Ardern, Little called her when she was in a taxi on her way to Parliament and said he was throwing in the towel – within hours Ardern had been made leader with Little's endorsement.
The new timeline of events leading to Ardern's rise in the ranks came at the end of a challenging day on the trail, including an emotional visit to Pike River Memorial, to recommit Labour's pledge to try and bring home the 29 men still trapped in the mine.
It's the first time Ardern has visited since becoming leader and it didn't pass without her making special mention of Little who had "been there right from the beginning" and stood by the families of Pike River.
The tone of Ardern's day had been set early when she got some of the most aggressive protesting she's seen on the campaign trail from a Nelson man at a Grey Power event demanding she answer questions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Police stepped in and told the man to calm down – he was quick to point out he'd put the same pressure on National leader Bill English when he visited.
It put a whiff of discontent in the air though and not long after Ardern herself changed from her usual "relentlessly positive" mood in a media stand-up to come down hard on English over his "lies" about Labour's tax plans.
"I've seen today a further ad which is full of lies and scaremongering, the New Zealand public deserve better than that. I will run an open relentlessly positive campaign but they need to start running an honest one," she said.
Clearly furious at the way the National campaign is attacking their tax policy, Ardern said she was "calling them out . . . for campaigning on things that don't exist".
Earlier Ardern had used her own 85-year-old grandfather's experience at Waikato Hospital on Tuesday night where he was asked to leave at 11.30pm when he lived an hour's drive away, as an example of how the current system under National wasn't working.
She told the 600-strong audience at a Nelson Grey Power meeting that the health system was stretched and while she didn't blame the hospital staff she said "underfunding" was responsible.
From there Ardern travelled to Pike River, on the way the heavens opened and by the time she arrived at the memorial the cold and dark rain clouds matched the sombre mood of the families there to welcome her.
The memorial is the closest thing the families have to a resting place for their sons, fathers, husbands and brothers and Ardern was visibly overwhelmed by the enormity of the visit.
It was there that she reaffirmed Labour's promise to "do the right thing" and in their first 100 days set up an agency that is focused on a re-entry into Pike River by 2018.
Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the mine, told the gathered crowd they'd had "lies and broken promises" and were "quite frankly sick of it" and it was time for a change of government to try and bring the men home and "get some peace".
Ardern wrapped up her day in the Blackball Hotel where she was greeted by supporters and some who were a little more skeptical and not afraid to question her motives on various issues.
From there it was off to the pub to celebrate her mentor and campaign right-hand-woman, Annette King's 70th birthday. A more trying day on the trail finished off with cake and birthday cheer.
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