The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, who is, at 40, among the youngest heads of state in the world, stood out this year for its tough policy against the coronavirus pandemic. With it, the country of Oceania was able to get rid of the disease completely in June, although there was a resurgence in recent days.
The popularity of the young premier positioned her well for the New Zealander of the Year award.. However, Ardern has a tough competitor. It’s not Russell Crowe, the popular, country-born actor. Not the film director Peter Jackson. Not one of the All Blacks, the mighty rugby team. Not: Ardern’s great rival is called Mittens, a Turkish Angora cat, white and tan, which has more than 50 thousand followers on Facebook.
Mittens is Wellington’s most popular cat, the capital of New Zealand, and even received the keys to the city. His popularity began in 2018, when he was repeatedly taken to a police station by people who considered him a lost animal. Then, one of the officers decided to open a Facebook account so that people who came across him could take photos of him and upload them to the social network. Thus, there are photos of Mittens in bars, libraries and various public places. The group is called The Wondrous Adventures of Mittens (The Wonderful Adventures of Mittens).
There are other candidates for the award, such as the CEO of Health, Ashley Bloomfield; scientist Siouxsie Wiles; designer Kelly Coe; musician Dane Rumble and journalist Patrick Gower, among others. Once the nominations are complete, a jury will evaluate the candidates during other rounds and the winner will be announced on March 18 next year. In the last edition, the actress and director Jennifer Ward-Lealand was awarded.
“In this year of extraordinary circumstances, we are all heroes,” Miriama Kamo, organizer of the award, said in a statement. For now Ardern is targeting the October 17 elections, for which he starts as a favorite, to revalidate as head of the government. Perhaps the date is not a coincidence: there are those who accuse her of being a populist.