He has joined leaders around the world in paying tribute to Ardern’s leadership over the past five years.
Rabuka said Ardern’s charisma and humility gave her a natural empathy with Pacific islanders.
He added that Ardern consolidated New Zealand’s relationship with Fiji and other island states and it was during a period when the Pacific was becoming increasingly important in international affairs.
Rabuka highlighted an incident that took place when Ardern visited Fiji in 2020.
He said Ardern made an instant impression at a function for the Women’s Crisis Centre’s new office in Nadi where she surprised and endeared herself to a group of shy Fijian women when she took on the role of tea lady.
As Ardern served them, she gave an assurance that she was used to it and did it all the time at home in New Zealand.
Ardern was in Fiji again last year for the 51st meeting of leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad has thanked Ardern for New Zealand’s assistance to Fiji during national disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.
When Fiji was coming to grips with forming a government in December, Rabuka said Ardern offered New Zealand’s assistance to facilitate the democratic process.
The PM stressed that the government looks forward to forging a strong relationship with Chris Hipkins who has succeeded Ardern as Prime Minister and he will be writing a formal letter to him.