In the wake of New Zealand’s worst terror attack, the prime minister talks frankly about the aftermath, global scrutiny and how a nation heals

“I’ll show you something,” says Jacinda Ardern. We are sitting on sofas in her office on the ninth floor of the Beehive, the circular building that houses the New Zealand government in Wellington. It is just 10 days since a terrorist attack in Christchurch took the lives of 50 people at prayer. Outside, the flags are at half-mast. Two police officers stand by the glass doors, cradling semi-automatic weapons. Up on the ninth floor, the early morning sun scythes in through panoramic windows, the harbour just visible in the distance. In the reception area, a staffer’s preschooler son buzzes back and forth on a bike.

I have been asking Ardern about her immediate response to the attack, which from the outset put a clear emphasis on inclusivity and solidarity. Succinctly, steelily, the prime minister framed what had happened in her own terms. It felt very deliberate: was it?

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