World watches for special baby
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in hospital yesterday to give birth to her first child.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Ardern arrived at Auckland City Hospital at 5.50am yesterday with her partner, Clarke Gayford, to have her baby.
This will be the 37-yearold’s first child.
With Ardern in hospital, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters took up the role of acting prime minister.
Peters said it was ‘‘a happy day and on behalf of the coalition government we wish her and Clarke all the very best’’.
Ardern revealed she was pregnant in January, saying she and Gayford wanted a family ‘‘but weren’t sure it would happen for us, which has made this news unexpected but exciting’’.
In one of the ninth-floor birthing suites at the hospital, she was in good company – 6974 babies were born at Auckland City Hospital in 2017. It was understood the country would get a chance to see the new baby briefly.
Leader of the House Chris Hipkins offered the PM the best wishes of the Labour Party. He said Ardern found herself in an unusual position, having media waiting outside the hospital, and the world watching. ‘‘We are all very proud of her,’’ he said.
National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett said the party wished the prime minister and the baby good health, and all the best.
Kiwis posted their well wishes for Ardern, Gayford and their baby on social media. And the reaction from the world was swift.
The New York Times reported soon after the announcement: Ardern’s ‘‘youth and surprise rise to power have made her a global celebrity’’, it said. Ardern’s pregnancy had prompted a national conversation about working mothers.
The Australians were also on to the development fast.
Sky News Australia had a ‘‘Just In’’ tweet, while ABC News also had an early tweet. Nine News Australia said the baby would be a significant moment for New Zealand. ‘‘Although she will become the first elected world leader to take maternity leave – and only the second to have a child while in office – Ms Ardern has played down the significant global attention she’s received as a role model,’’ it said.
The prime minister discovered she was pregnant during coalition negotiations in October but waited until January 19 to share the news with the country.
She plans to take six weeks off work. When she returns to work, Gayford will take up the role of fulltime stay-at-home dad.