It's too easy to call it sexism. It's also too lazy.

The Prime Minister isn't copping criticism over her VIP solo flight to Nauru because she's a woman. Or because she's a mother. It's because she shouldn't have gone to Nauru.

The sexism accusation has been thrown over the past week. But, here are three reasons calling out the PM isn't sexist.


Firstly, a similar stunt by a man also earned him a decent roasting. In 2011, then-Foreign Minister Murray McCully burnt an estimated $61,000 flying to Vanuatu for a day-long meeting. It seemed like an arrogant extravagance. He copped it good and proper for over a week.

The second reason is that the real sexism is expecting the Prime Minister to go to Nauru.

She is the mum of an 11-week old baby who doesn't yet have the vaccinations required to travel. Expecting a mother to work like she doesn't have a dependent infant is unreasonable.

Real feminists wouldn't argue that Ardern should work like a man who has a full-time wife at home. They'd argue that she should work like a mum with a wee one. Which is to say she should rewrite the rules of the job. To suit herself. So, stay home if she needs to.

And the final reason is that she didn't need to go. Which is really why the PM is copping it.

Joining the Forum for one day feels like a token effort. It's like turning up for the last five minutes of the kids' rugger game. You can say you were there, but you missed all the important stuff like the try scored 15 minutes in.

She turned up to a party no one else important bothered to join. Australia's new PM wasn't there. Fiji's PM dodged it. It was hardly a gathering of powerful leaders.

Australia's PM had a good reason: He's new to the job. When Bill English didn't go last year he had a good reason: The election campaign. Ardern had a good reason too: The baby.


Also, she came away with nothing. She didn't score any major wins.

A win would have been shoving it up the Australians by getting photographed holding hands with the refugees they're ill-treating. Didn't happen. Or, giving the Aussies a bollocking face to face over the matter. Hard to do when the Australian PM wasn't there.

Ardern could've left that job to Foreign Minister Winston Peters, seeing as his counterpart from Australia was there.

Rather, the trip felt a cynical exercise in pumping the PM's personal brand. Mostly to a New Zealand audience. It's good to be seen doing Important international stuff. It makes the PM look more Prime Ministerial. It's also good to be seen being fawned on by foreigners.

This is important to the Beehive.

Our PM is adored overseas. International media and world leaders love her. By now the Beehive will know it's a bonus when us Kiwis see her representing us offshore.

Remember that photo of a pregnant Prime Minister in a feather cloak, walking through Buckingham Palace next to tux-clad partner Clarke Gayford? The couple looked stunning. They also looked Kiwi As inside a palace. Ardern's popularity shot up in private polls.

Ardern probably didn't get the amazing international moment she was hoping for. The most bankable moment came when Nauru President Baron Waqa picked up his guitar and sang a song he'd written for Ardern. Mostly that was awkward. He is after all the guy running a country that doubles as Australia's refugee prison.

And that is why the decision deserves to be criticised. Because, it so clearly was a decision that benefited the Prime Minister, not the country.

And it is not sexist to say that.