Asia-Pacific

'Channel our inner Jacindas': Oprah praises NZ leader following Christchurch attacks

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Oprah Winfrey has called on women around the world to "to exemplify the truth and the respect and grace that we actually wish for the world".

Oprah Winfrey has sung the praises of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on a world stage, saying the young leader set a new global standard for leadership in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Speaking at the 2019 Women in the World Summit, the daytime television queen began her keynote address with a speech from 19th-century abolitionist and women's rights activist Sojourner Truth.

She then moved into lavish admiration for the Kiwi leader, telling the audience women specialised in "being woke to humanity".  

Oprah Winfrey has lavished praise on Jacinda Ardern for her response to the Christchurch massacre.
Oprah Winfrey has lavished praise on Jacinda Ardern for her response to the Christchurch massacre.
Supplied

"We don't build walls, we build bridges," she said. 

"We have only to look at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's response to last month's massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. I've never seen such leadership."

Ms Ardern has been praised internationally for the compassion and strength she showed after 50 worshippers were gunned down during prayers at two different mosques last month.

Within days, Ms Ardern announced sweeping changes to gun laws. 

"The answer she said lies in our humanity," Ms Winfrey said.

"We each hold the power in our words, in our actions, in our daily acts of kindness." 

Christchurch City Council staff wear head scarves during a pray service at Hagley Park, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Christchurch City Council staff wear head scarves during a pray service at Hagley Park, Christchurch, New Zealand.
SIPA USA

During the nation's mourning, Ms Ardern inspired New Zealanders to show their solidarity with the Muslim community, even wearing a headscarve to several events.

"Fifty murders that could have brought even more destruction, instead led to a portrait of the prime minister displayed across Dubai's tallest building with the word 'peace' shining above it, in English as well as Arabic," Ms Winfrey said. 

The host's message was clear. 

"Women of the world, we have to make the choice every single day to channel our own inner Jacindas," she said. 

"To exemplify the truth and the respect and grace that we actually wish for the world. 

The audience was brought to its feet. 

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