In December 2019, the first case of Coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, China. In the five months since then, over 6.2 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported globally, and over 300,000 people have lost their lives to the pandemic. 

Covid Statistics
Source: worldomiters

But, in the same time, New Zealand has emerged as an undisputed leader in not just combating the spread of the disease, but rather, in eliminating it completely.  

As of Jun 1, 2020, it had no patients in the hospital, and no new cases had been reported since May 23, 2020. 

Flatten the curve
Source: Sky News

Naturally, it is important to keep in mind the population of the country, the geographical location, and the strength of its healthcare system, when taking into account the way it handled the pandemic.  

But, all these factors do not take away from the simple fact that New Zealand has, very clearly, benefitted from the leadership of its Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.  

Jacinda Ardern
Source: Time

Jacinda Ardern, who is serving as the 40th PM of New Zealand, was the world's youngest female head of government at the time of her ascension.

Jacinda Ardern
Source: nationbuilder

And, in only three years, she has already become a leader that not just her country's citizens, but most young men and women from across the globe look up to. 

New Zealand PM
Source: UCI

Ardern, who already set an example of the challenges and competence of working mothers, won people over with the way she led the country in the aftermath of the horrifying Christchurch mosque shootings. 

To give a quick summary, not only did she personally meet the families who lost their loved ones in the senseless shooting, but in just less than a month, she introduced a bill to reform New Zealand's Arms Act. And she led the final bill reading with these emotional, impassioned words: 

They (victims) will carry disabilities for a lifetime, and that's before you consider the psychological impact. We are here for them. I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could be obtained legally in this country. 

                    - Jacinda Ardern

Ardern after christchurch shootin
Source: Straits Times

And Ardern's leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic definitely deserves special praise and attention. Because it holds important lessons for the rest of the world. 

New Zealand, which depends largely on revenue generated by tourism, closed its borders to international travel on March 19, only 19 days after the first confirmed case. It was one of the earliest and most stringent lockdown imposed. 

Covid 19 lockdown New Zealand
Source: CNBC

The swiftness with which the decision was implemented considerably helped in lowering the number of reported cases. 

We're going hard and we're going early.  We only have 102 cases, but so did Italy once.
Jacinda Ardern at Covid 19 briefing
Source: CNBC

As of June 1, the total number of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand stands at 1,504. Of these, 1,481 have recovered and unfortunately, 22 people lost their lives to the virus. 

NZ Covid19 summary
Source: health.govt.nz

What is especially noteworthy is that contrary to other countries, cases in New Zealand did not see a spike, despite an increase in testing. Especially when you take into account the challenges that the country's population density posed for contact tracing.

Coronavirus
Source: worldometers

During the nationwide lockdown, Ardern publically condemned a fellow politician who broke the norms of social distancing, establishing once and for all, that the rules of the lockdown were indeed the same for everyone. 

Jacinda Ardern
Source: The Florida Post

Her approach made it clear that no one was above the law. More importantly, by demoting the concerned minister, Ardern set a clear example of the repercussions of breaking the rules of social distancing. 

NZ lockdown rules
Source: stuff.co.nz

Jacinda Ardern also maintained open and clear communication during the pandemic, regularly providing updates through social media, to stem the spread of paranoia and false information. 

In order to boost spirits during the lockdown, she led the Easter celebrations in the country, while under the lockdown, and maintaining social distancing.  

Simply put, she ensured that people enjoyed themselves, but stayed safe. And keeping in line with her honest, clear, and approachable leadership style, she--like most of us in our WFH attire--even briefed the public, from her home, in sweats. 

During the pandemic, Ardern's government also introduced, initially, a $12.1 billion COVID-19 Economic Response Package that allowed people to continue to stay indoors, with limited financial insecurity. 

NZ economic releif package
Source: beehive.govt.nz

Ardern also announced that in the wake of the pandemic, she, along with other ministers, would take a 20% pay cut for six months, and introduced interest free loans. 

If there were ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now. 

                    - Jacinda Ardern

Additionally, once New Zealand decided to lift the lockdown, proper instructions were provided on the rules to be followed. 

To ensure social distancing, stickers were put on public transport for commuters, businesses were expected to maintain a logbook of customers' details, and extra security was deployed at the malls.  

New Zealand after lockdown
Source: Telegraph

In fact, the same rules applied to Ardern as well, and she was actually returned from a cafe because it was at maximum capacity (under the social distancing guidelines). 

She gracefully accepted the situation and waited for a spot to open. 

In order to boost the economy, Ardern proposed a four-day working week, and also got into talks with Australian PM Scott Morrison to introduce a 'travel bubble' and a coronavirus-safe plan to open borders and encourage trade. 

Ardern managed to lead her country to safety during a global pandemic that has crumbled some of the world's leading economies. Her tools were scientific approach, clear communication, and keeping compassion at the core of decision-making. And that's something most world leaders would do well to learn from.