But after last Friday’s terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has quickly become his favourite current head of state.
After the initial shock of the massacre in which 50 people were gunned down at two mosques, all eyes were on Ardern to see how she would react to the international incident on her doorstep.
This was not just the deadliest shooting in the country’s history, but a crisis that threatened to tear apart the nation of 5 million people apart along cultural, religious and political lines.
It was Ardern’s toughest test to date.
The 38-year-old - the world’s youngest female leader - was under pressure to show her true colours.
Would she reveal herself to be pro- Muslim, or pro-white rightwing?
Would she sympathise with both sides, given that 74% of the population is white?
Would she be pro or anti-immigration?
Would she label the incident a terror attack, or simply a mass shooting?
In other words, was she van Donald Trump se soorte?
Like a great leader, she acted decisively, with courage and compassion.
From the time the news broke, Ardern came out saying this was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home,” she said.
“They are us. The person who has perpetrated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.”
In the wake of the tragedy, the PM, wearing a black doekie, could be seen publicly comforting and grieving with the victims’ families at mosque.
Ardern offered to pay for the burials, government would also provide financial support.
Her spirit of tolerance and humanity permeated through communities there, and even abroad, as New Zealanders rallied behind their 50 000-strong Muslim population.
Locals, including biker gangs, have stood guard outside mosques and are patrolling neighbourhoods to ensure Muslims are safe.
Special hakas have been performed at memorials to pay tribute to the fallen.
And today is “Scarves in Solidarity” day, when all Kiwis, especially women, are urged to wear a scarf to stand with the Muslim community.
Another key moment was when Ardern spoke in parliament for the first time after the attack.
Addressing MPs by saying “Assalaamu alaykum” (peace be upon you), she said she would refuse to call the suspect (Brenton Tarrant) by his name.
“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety - and that is why you will never hear me mention his name. We in New Zealand will give him nothing - not even his name,” she said.
Then yesterday, she announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. Just like that.
Americans could only shake their heads at their own leaders in disgust.
It really is amazing how Ardern has used this act of terrorism - whose purpose was to bring hatred, division and pain - to unite and inspire the world to be a more tolerant place.
Hats off to this woman.
If only our own leaders could act as decisively, with the same courage and compassion.
Perhaps it would help us out of our “darkest days”!