The photo has been shared hundreds if not thousands of times, showing the prime minister, dressed in a hijab, meeting with Christchurch’s Muslim community a day after the Friday terror attack.

She looks forward, her brow raised with concern and hands clasped. She’s not speaking and doesn’t show any sign that she is about to launch into a political speech. Jacinda Ardern is simply listening.

It’s a photo which has gone around the world. Well-wishers in the United States and news networks in Asia have shared the photo, which was taken on Saturday by a city council photographer in Christchurch.

Kirk Hargreaves, a former Press photographer who joined the Christchurch council, was standing outside the community hall when he spotted Ardern’s face “like a bubble” through a window.

On Saturday, Ardern visited refugees and members of the Muslim community in Christchurch. Tearful, she told the meeting the entire country was “united in grief”.

“This is not New Zealand. The only part of the incident we have seen over the past 24 to 36 hours that is New Zealand – is the support that you are seeing now,” she said.

She had travelled straight to the meeting, after getting off a plane from Wellington that morning.

Hargreaves had followed her from the airport, and said he only got the striking image of Ardern because he was late to the meeting.

“The room was too crowded to even get into, because of all the community members,” he said. So, he ended up standing outside.

As soon as he got the photo, Hargreaves said he knew it would garner a reaction.

“The human empathy and all those amazing human traits she’s showing in the picture, I’m glad people resonated with that,” he said.

Blotches of colour are strewn across the image, which he said were the result of flowers reflecting onto the window.

“I was standing outside, on a bright sunny day. You couldn’t even see in, but then I caught her. Her face was like a wee bubble out of darkness,” he recalled.

“I thought, what, is that Jacinda Ardern?”

The mix of colour, the prime minister’s hijab and the framing of the picture led Hargreaves to call it “religious”.

“The moment I saw her face pop up, and what was happening with the flowers, I fully knew [it was important]. It’s a religious photo in a way, a photo of a mix of religious symbolism. It looks like stain glass, there’s the Muslim hijab, and colours of Hindu religious. It’s a universal picture,” he said.

​The photo, which first appeared on a city council Twitter feed, had barely any touch ups or editing. It appeared as taken, which was why Hargreaves says you may have missed Climate Minister James Shaw in the background. Even he missed him at first, sitting in the bottom left corner with his face still bruised following an alleged assault in Wellington.

Photo (feature) by Kirk Hargreaves/Supplied

Photo (center) by David Walker/Stuff

Photos republished with permission.

Written by Glenn Mcconnell as Face of empathy: Jacinda Ardern photo resonates with the world after terror attack on Stuff

This article was republished with permission.