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Ardern said this morning that shifting to win the Mt Albert seat - after the departure of former Labour leader David Shearer - felt like a betrayal after years trying to win Auckland Central.
The mitigating factor was that with boundary changes a chunk of Grey Lynn moved too, she told the audience at an Auckland Writers' Festival event.
Ardern was speaking at the event about the weeks leading up to the 2017 election that saw her form a coalition deal with NZ First and the Greens to form a government - against most expectations.
She "felt like it was my fault" that Annette King decided not to contest the 2017 election.
Ardern said that, after Andrew Little suggested she replace him as leader, she said no for four days.
He had said to her - just before she was due to enter the debating chamber at question time - "I don't know if I can do it", meaning turn public opinion in support of Labour before the 2017 election.
She said she pushed back against Little's wanting her to become leader but eventually he didn't give her a choice and made a captain's call.
Political scientist Stephen Levine's book Stardust & Substance was being discussed at the festival.
Asked by writer Toby Manhire what she was reading she said that - other than Cabinet papers - she was reading material in a psychology journal about the aftermath of the deadly Christchurch attacks on mosques two months ago.
The ASB Theatre at the Aotea Centre where she is being interviewed by Manhire was nearly full.
Ardern said she had texted her congratulations to Scott Morrison over his win in the Australian election, but she hadn't had a chance to phone him yet.