Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she is stepping down as New Zealand's leader and will not contest general elections set for October.
With all teary eyes, she sent the message to the world in Napier that February 7 will be her last day in the office .
She will hold her seat as a lawmaker until the general election, which she said would be held on October 14.
said Jacinda Ardern
Ardern had faced a tough election campaign this year. Her liberal Labour Party won re-election two years ago in a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have made it face defeat from its conservative rivals.
She was lauded globally for her country's initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic after New Zealand managed for months to contain the virus at its borders. But its zero-tolerance strategy was abandoned once it was challenged by new variants and vaccines became available.
She faced tougher criticism at home that the strategy was too strict.
Ardern in December announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry would look into whether the government made the right decisions in battling COVID-19 and how it can better prepare for future pandemics. Its report is due next year.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said he wouldn't be contesting the leadership of the party, throwing open the competition to become New Zealand's next prime minister to other members of the Labour Party.
Now all eyes on who the Labour party will think is perfect for the job.
(With inputs from AP)