Jacinda Ardern explains awkward moment during live press conference

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Jacinda Ardern has addressed an awkward incident she had with a sign language interpreter on Friday, saying the whole debacle was unintentional.

The incident happened on Friday at a Covid-19 press conference when the New Zealand Prime Minister stepped away from the podium to make way for Deputy Prime Minister, Grant Robertson.

When Ms Ardern moved further to her left, she stood directly in front of the sign language interpreter, who is forced to move further to the side. The interpreter then walks around the Prime Minister to reclaim her spot and make sure she is seen.

Jacinda Ardern accidentally stepped in front of her sign language interpreter during a press conference. Source: Facebook/Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern accidentally stepped in front of her sign language interpreter during a press conference. Source: Facebook/Jacinda Ardern

It appears Ms Ardern had no idea she had blocked the other woman until the interpreter walked back into position. Ms Ardern can be seen quietly apologise to her on stage.

People were quick to imply Ms Ardern's act was intentional, seemingly ignoring her apparent surprise on stage.

One person even said claimed the PM "hates deaf people" on Twitter, while others suggested she "pushed" the interpreter. Many also said the interpreter was less than impressed – but those claims were quickly quashed.

"The PM didn’t push or barge, and the #NZSL interpreter wasn’t unhappy," Lachlan Keating, the CEO of
Deaf Aotearoa
tweeted.

PM reveals truth behind viral moment

On Tuesday, Ms Ardern clarified what happened.

"She was to my left and I was trying to not get in the way of my colleagues and cross over them and maintain social distance," she said according to Newshub.

"But of course, in doing so, I cut her off - not intentionally, as you can imagine, and I apologised to her at the time." 

New Zealand's Prime Minister said she apologised for the incident straight away. Source: Newshub
New Zealand's Prime Minister said she apologised for the incident straight away. Source: Newshub

The same press conference was later interrupted by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake.

Ms Ardern was temporarily thrown as she attempted to answer questions on the country's new Covid-19 strategy from Wellington's Beehive.

"Sorry. A slight distraction," she said, looking upwards as a rumble was felt in the Executive Building.

"Would you mind repeating that question?" she asked, before carrying on.

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