WELLINGTON, New Zealand – As citizens of a small and isolated nation, New Zealanders often seek validation from abroad. By that measure, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned triumphant this week from a trip to Europe.
She met with the leaders of Germany and France and got support for a free trade agreement. She was applauded in Paris when she explained that in seeking a greener future, New Zealand had stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration. And she was named in Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people.
For many New Zealanders, an image defined the trip: Ardern wearing an indigenous Maori cloak and smiling as she and her partner Clarke Gayford arrived at Britain's Buckingham Palace.
But back home, Ardern faces political pressures.