Wellington and Auckland, June 22, 2018
The news of the arrival of the first child (a baby girl) for Jacinda Ardern and her Partner Clarke Gayford engaged the headlines of almost all media channels including print editions of newspapers all over the world.
Thousands of messages have been posted on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, apart from messages received through government channels and directly by media.
Bhaktavar Bhutto congratulates
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto holds the record for being the first woman
Prime Minister to deliver a baby while in office. She was born on June 21 and shares the birthday of Jacinda Ardern’s new baby. Her second daughter Bhaktavar was born on January 25, 1990 in Karachi, Pakistan.
Yesterday, Bhaktavar tweeted, “Congratulations PM @jacindaardern on the birth of your daughter! Reposting this(from the Guardian), relevant as ever, “Benazir Bhutto showed you can be a mother and Prime Minister.”
Ardern’s parents excited
The Prime Minister’s parents have expressed their excitement at the birth of their new granddaughter.
The baby arrived at 445 pm yesterday (Thursday. June 21, 2018) at Auckland City Hospital, weighing 3.31 kg.
Ms Ardern’s father Ross Ardern told RNZ that he and his wife Laurell were “very proud” and warmly welcomed the new addition to their family.
“She will be great company for our other two grandchildren and we look forward to meeting her. We are very happy that mum and baby are doing well. We know that Clarke and Jacinda will make a great team looking after the baby and we will of course be supporting them where we can,” he said.
Inundated with Wishes
Ms Ardern has been inundated with well wishes from around the globe since the birth of her daughter.
The historic occasion has caused a stir at home and worldwide – Ms Ardern is the first world leader to give birth in office in almost three decades.
As with the pregnancy, news of the baby’s arrival came first on social media.
Jacinda Ardern posted a photo and a message: “Welcome to our village, wee one.”
And from around New Zealand, well-wishers extended that welcome.
Politicians across the political spectrum also congratulated the new parents.
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters extended his best wishes to all the family of Jacinda Ardern “at this very happy time.”
“Like the rest of the country, we welcome the news of the birth of a healthy baby and are naturally delighted for the new parents,” he said.
Dame Annette King
From a boat in the south of France, Dame Annette King, a Labour stalwart and long-time friend, said she was “absolutely delighted.”
“Congratulations to Jacinda and Clarke. I am going to suggest that Annie would be a good name – or Annette if you prefer the longer version.”
Dame Helen Clark
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said in an email to The Associated Press that it was a very happy day for Ardern and Gayford and that New Zealanders had taken the news of the pregnancy in their stride.
“This is a sign of our maturity as a country and its acceptance that combining career and family is a choice which women are free to make,” she wrote. “Let’s also celebrate Clarke as a modern man who is happy to be the full time parent of a young child.”
The former Prime Minister said attitudes had changed since she’d entered politics and that was a good thing. “For New Zealand, these events and the way our country has greeted them will be seen as inspirational by all who advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
Jennifer Curtin, a professor of politics at the University of Auckland, said there was symbolic importance in Ardern giving birth, in that it showed political parties around the world that it was fine to have younger women as candidates.
Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson said the historic occasion sent a message that caring for children was one of the most important jobs there was.
“Listen, this is huge. I know this is huge for our country. This is huge for women and families and children. This is huge for the world.”
From across the political divide, the congratulations came too – from ACT and from National.
National’s leader Simon Bridges knows what it’s like to have a new-born in the home while working at Parliament.
He welcomed his third child at the end of last year.
“My messages would be really enjoying this special time, have as much fun with it as you can. They’ll be great parents and do a great job at it.”
“Being parents is a joy and a privilege and we are sure your new arrival will fill your lives with all the happiness our children have ours. Congratulations to you both. Our family wishes yours every happiness.”
Other ‘Political Babies’
The Prime Minister’s new-born girl joins a group of political babies – Jemima Bridges among them. Also Hiwaiterangi, the daughter of Labour’s MP Kiritapu Allan and her wife.
Politics and Parenthood
Ms Allan said that juggling politics and parenthood was both a privilege and a challenge – one she was certain the Prime Minister would ace.
“She’s incredibly capable, as is Clarke – a good East Coast lad – they will have it down pat pretty soon.”
The growing contingent of new parent-politicians means there’ll be plenty of support and advice for the Prime Minister.
Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime entered Parliament with a seven-week-old son, Heeni.
“Just accept that it won’t always go as planned. You’ll figure out and you know don’t be too hard on yourself,” she said.
Other young parents
National’s Chris Penk became a father to Austin just two days before last year’s election.
“I would actually, if anything, just encourage them to take care of themselves and the little one, because it is a very special time – and a difficult one.”
Labour MP and Education Minister, Chris Hipkins knows that too – he has a 20-month-old son.
“It’s hard work because Parliamentary hours are quite long and for those who are up all night dealing with babies – that can be pretty exhausting. But I think we are getting better,” he said.
In recent times, Parliament has become more family-friendly.
The Speaker has encouraged MPs to bring infants into the debating chamber or a nearby room to be fed. And an outdoor playground is on its way.
It’s a different time from when Nanaia Mahuta welcomed her son into the world while a Labour MP in 2009.
“I am really glad now because we have got more and more young women, who not only believe that they can come to Parliament and serve and have babies – but be the Prime Minister, too.”
And she had some important advice for the new parents.
“Sleep when you can. These first few months, I think it is going to be all about bubs, but I am pretty confident that she will be able to do it and she’s got a lot of doting colleagues who will be willing aunties to push the pram up and down too get baby to sleep,” she said.
Ms Ardern is expected to spend the next six weeks on maternity leave, before returning to Parliament in August.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Partner Clarke Gayford with their baby girl.