Brave or Irresponsible? New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Continues Speech as Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake Strikes

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in the headlines again for continuing her live speech even as the 5.9 magnitude earthquake rattled her press conference. She paused briefly due to the "slight distraction," maintained her calm and then continued her address to the nation on Covid-19.

According to Geonet, Wellington and nearby areas were shaken by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter 35 km (21.75 miles) south-west of Taumarunui in central North Island. Geonet, which takes in reports from the public of earthquakes, said 25,000 people had reported the tremor. No causalities or damage were reported.

Ardern Unruffled as Earthquake Interrupts

Ardern was holding a press conference on the country's new vaccination targets and at the same time, the earthquake created a chaos. Ardern briefly grabbed her podium when the shaking began, smiled, and told a reporter asking a question: "Sorry, a slight distraction ... would you mind repeating that question?"

At the end of the press conference, Arden said, "I have to say, [finance] minister [Grant] Robertson just said to me that he wanted to check whether or not it was wind – he wasn't entirely convinced it was an earthquake. I would expect such a statement from the MP for Wellington Central."

Small Earthquakes are a Regular Experience in New Zealand

As reported by Reuters, New Zealand frequently witnesses weak to medium intensity earthquakes primarily because it lies on the seismically active "Ring of Fire", a 40,000-km (24,855-mile) arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches girdling much of the Pacific Ocean.

Series of tremors occurred within and near the city of Christchurch, and the Canterbury Plains region from early September 2010 to late December 2011.

A 6.3 magnitude quake occurred in Christchurch in February 2011 that killed 185 people. The major earthquake caused widespread damage across the city.

A 7.8 magnitude tremor hit the South Island town of Kaikoura in 2016 in which two people lost their lives. It caused tremendous damage.

Social Media Reactions

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand PM Wikimedia commons

As soon as the news of Ardern continuing her live speech amid the earthquake, broke out, many netizens appreciated the Prime Minister and described her as the coolest world leader. One Twitter user wrote, "Yeah I don't agree with her on everything but she is a real leader I can't deny that." Another wrote, "Wow! We need someone like her in the US. This lady is tough."

"Brave and adorable personality," shared one user. Another wrote, "Can NZ please send her over to Britain as we are led by clowns over here!"

Some netizens felt that it's nothing new and extraordinary "Second or possibly third time an earthquake has interrupted a live, televised press briefing from Ardern. It is becoming a genre," tweeted one user. "Script & drama was more important you see," said another.

One comment read, "Seems like earth quakes are a frequent occurrence in NZ. Isn't it irresponsible to continue talking when everyone present is in danger? Why is this painted as a brave move?"