‘Quite a decent shake here’: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern hit by earthquake during TV interview

The coronavirus pandemic has been something of a nightmare for live TV, with interviews interrupted by children, cats, ringing phones, dogs and now, earthquakes.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was discussing the country’s ongoing lifting of coronavirus restrictions when a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck near the capital Wellington on Monday morning. No injuries or damage have been reported.

As the camera visibly shook, a still-smiling Ardern told Newshub AM Show host Ryan Bridge that “we’re just having a bit of an earthquake here, quite a — quite a decent shake here.”

“If you see things moving behind me… the Beehive moves a little more than most,” she added, referring to the executive wing of the New Zealand Parliament. Asked if she was feeling “safe and well to continue the interview,” Ardern responded “(I’m) fine, I’m not under any hanging lights, I look like I’m in a structurally sound place.”

Ardern’s cool reaction quickly went viral on Twitter and other social media.

Like most New Zealanders, Ardern is accustomed to earthquakes. New Zealand sits on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” a tectonically-active 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) arc which spans much of the Pacific. According to GeoNet, which monitors geological activity in the country, New Zealand experiences some 20,000 earthquakes every year, or between 50 and 80 per day, though the vast majority are too small to be felt by humans.

GeoNet said Monday’s earthquake was the strongest so far in 2020, topping a magnitude-5.4 which struck in a similar location in January. It said the quake was followed by over 45 aftershocks ranging in size from magnitude-1.7 to 4.4.

Finance Minister Grant Roberston said there was a “big long rumble” leading up to the quake.

“Hope all ok up the line in the Levin area,” he wrote on Twitter. “Not what we need right now.”

Nor was Ardern the only Kiwi politician to have a call disturbed by the event. Fleur Fitzsimmons, Labour councilor for Southern Paekawakawa, said she was “on the phone to the Mayor talking about earthquake strengthening the Central Library when that earthquake hit!”