Jacinda Ardern raises NZ$100,000 for cancer charity after selling offensive comment transcript

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Credit: AP

When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was caught on a hot mic using an offensive word against a rival politician last week, it seemed the nation's political discourse could be taking an ugly turn.

But Ms Ardern and lawmaker David Seymour decided to make good of a bad situation and fundraise for a prostate cancer charity in the process.

The rival pair signed an official parliamentary transcript of Ms Ardern's comment which was then framed and auctioned on Thursday.

The top bid reached just over $100,100 New Zealand dollars (around £52,200).

In a post on Facebook the prime minister, who has been in power since 2017, wrote: “Can't say I expected this.

"A faux pas with the old mic in parliament has turned into $100,100 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

"My thanks to David for being a good sport and to everyone who placed a bid.”

Jacinda Ardern pictured during a visit to London during the summer. Credit: PA

Ms Ardern's comment had come after Mr Seymour, who leads the libertarian ACT party, questioned her about her government’s record for around seven minutes during Parliament’s Question Time.

After sitting down, Ms Ardern could be heard saying to her deputy: "He's such an arrogant p****.”

Her words were barely audible on Parliament TV but were just picked up in the background.

Ms Ardern later sent an apologetic text to Mr Seymour, who said he was “shocked and astonished” at her language, which was "out of character".

Mr Seymour suggested the auction idea to Ms Ardern at an end-of-year party with journalists, which she agreed to.

The auction was held on the New Zealand website Trade Me and attracted more than 280 bids.

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Peter Dickens, the chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, said he wanted to thank both politicians for their “classy” reaction.

He said the money comes as a huge boost after a hard year during which normal fundraising activities were curtailed by Covid-19.

“We've been overjoyed and amazed all the way through the journey of this auction,” Dickens said.

“It's made more than we ever could have imagined.”

Symptoms of prostate cancer according to the NHS

Prostate cancer

The NHS website says prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years.

Symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).

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What symptoms may be associated with prostate cancer?

  • needing to pee more frequently, often during the night

  • needing to rush to the toilet

  • difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)

  • straining or taking a long time while peeing

  • weak flow

  • feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully

  • blood in urine or in semen

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Are these the only symptoms of prostate cancer?

The NHS website says that these symptoms do not always mean you have prostate cancer. Many men's prostates get larger as they get older because of a non-cancerous condition called benign prostate enlargement.

Signs that the cancer may have spread include bone and back pain, a loss of appetite, pain in the testicles and unintentional weight loss.

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What are the causes of prostate cancer?

The NHS says it's not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, although a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition.

These include:

  • Age – the risk rises as you get older, and most cases are diagnosed in men over 50 years of age

  • Ethnic group – prostate cancer is more common in black men than in Asian men

  • Family history – having a brother or father who developed prostate cancer before age 60 seems to increase your risk of developing it; research also shows that having a close female relative who developed breast cancer may also increase your risk of developing prostate cancer

  • Obesity – recent research suggests there may be a link between obesity and prostate cancer, and a balanced diet and regular exercise may lower your risk of developing prostate cancer

  • Diet – research is ongoing into the links between diet and prostate cancer, and there is some evidence that a diet high in calcium is linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer

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What you should do if you're worried about prostate cancer

If you have symptoms that could be caused by prostate cancer, you should visit a GP.

There's no single, definitive test for prostate cancer. The GP will discuss the pros and cons of the various tests with you to try to avoid unnecessary anxiety.

The GP is likely to:

  • ask for a urine sample to check for infection

  • take a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – called PSA testing

  • examine your prostate by inserting a gloved finger into your bottom – called digital rectal examination

The GP will assess your risk of having prostate cancer based on a number of factors, including your PSA levels and the results of your prostate examination, as well as your age, family history and ethnic group.

If you're at risk, you should be referred to hospital to discuss the options of further tests.

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He said the money, which is equivalent to 10% of its annual budget, would go to a range of services it offers, including free counselling and support groups.

Dickens said prostate cancer is the nation's most diagnosed form of cancer and that older men should consider getting a simple blood test to enable early detection.

“Just a little prick could save a life," he added.

Ms Ardern's Labour Party won a landslide victory of historic proportions in the country's general election in 2020 and the prime minister has enjoyed high approval ratings for much of her two terms in office.

But with New Zealand expected to go to the polls in late 2023, Ms Ardern is coming under increasing pressure after recent polls have put her party behind its conservative rivals.