ZM host Vaughan Smith says his former high school mate Jacinda Ardern has "always been fighting for the underdog".
Smith, of ZM's Fletch, Vaughan and Megan, attended Morrinsville College one year behind Ardern, who yesterday overtook Andrew Little as the leader of the Labour party.
Smith said he was Ardern's deputy when she was the head of student council during intermediate, and while he eventually gave up those duties, Ardern continued her time on the student council right through to the end.
"I got to a certain age where I was like, ‘f*** this’, but looking back on it, it was always what she was destined for. I was just saying to someone this morning when I was watching that Mark Richardson clip – she's always been like that.
"That's why I think it does come across so genuine, is that she's always believed in that, it's not like she got into her 20s and was like an overnight activist. She's always been very caring about people and always fighting for the underdog."
Smith says Ardern was known in Morrinsville as a highly intelligent student.
"She was always really smart and… it was that, or if you were really good at rugby, those were the two things at Morrinsville College that [made] people believe you'd have a future.
"She was always really smart and just really involved in everything, so I guess everybody kind of knew that she'd end up doing something pretty important."