Quake Interrupts Ardern Press Conference

'Sorry, a slight distraction,' says New Zealand prime minister
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2021 11:54 AM CDT

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had to ask a reporter to repeat a question at a press conference Friday because she had been somewhat distracted by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake. Video from the Wellington press conference shows the prime minister gripping the podium before smiling and saying, "Sorry, a slight distraction. Would you mind repeating that question?" Authorities said the quake, felt by hundreds of thousands of people, hit the central North Island Friday morning but did not cause major damage. Ardern also kept her cool when a 5.9 quake hit during an interview last year. "Quite a decent shake, here," she calmly remarked.

Wellington is known for earthquakes, and Ardern said at the end of the Friday conference that Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson "just said to me that he wanted to check whether or not it was wind—he wasn’t entirely convinced it was an earthquake. I would expect such a statement from the MP for Wellington Central." The New Zealand Herald reports that Ardern announced a new "traffic light" system that will be used to manage COVID-19 when local health boards have vaccinated 90% of eligible people. She said that hard borders around Auckland while be retained for now, but residents of the country's biggest city should "absolutely" be able to visit family in other parts of New Zealand for Christmas. (More New Zealand stories.)

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