New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden

‘Quite a decent shake’: quake interrupts Jacinda Ardern’s TV interview

A sizable earthquake struck New Zealand on Monday, shaking Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a live television interview, but failing to cause major damage or disrupt Ardern’s calm demeanour.

The prime minister was speaking to a morning news programme from Parliament in Wellington when the magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck just before 8 am.

“We’re just having a bit of an earthquake here, Ryan, quite a decent shake,” she said, interrupting the interview but smiling and holding steady in front of the camera and appearing unruffled.

She warned the host, Ryan Bridge, not to worry “if you see things moving behind me,” because the building she was in “moves a little more than most.”

When the shaking stopped, she continued the interview.

“I’m not under any hanging lights, and looks like I am in a structurally strong place,” she said.

The tremor hit about 20 miles northwest of Levin, roughly an hour’s drive from the capital, at a depth of 23 miles, according to the country’s seismology agency. It lasted for less than 30 seconds and was felt by tens of thousands of New Zealanders, prompting some to scramble for cover.

Ardern took the quake in stride, fitting a pattern of calm in crisis that she has displayed before — after the Christchurch terrorist attack, the White Island volcano eruption, and the coronavirus outbreak, which New Zealand has largely managed to get under control.

With an election scheduled for September, and polls showing enormous support for Ardern, some people wondered in jest if she might have orchestrated the rattling.

Mostly, though, Ardern’s response simply added to the praise she has been receiving worldwide for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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