She’s not just a baby, she’s a global good news story

You can tell the PM’s new­born is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause New Zealand’s made it on to the world’s agenda.

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE -

AS mo­ments in his­tory go, the birth of Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern’s baby girl was a sig­nif­i­cant one.

On main­stream me­dia, it re­ceived the sort of cov­er­age nor­mally re­served for peo­ple from Eng­land re­lated to the Queen. On so­cial me­dia, there seemed to be a na­tional mood so full of ex­u­ber­ance, it was al­most pal­pa­ble.

Tra­di­tion­ally, New Zealand doesn’t make such a big pub­lic fuss about the ar­rival of a baby. Un­less it’s the first one born in the New Year, when there’s a photo in the pa­per and that’s usu­ally it, we just like to leave them to it to be born.

Not every­one of course was caught up in the ex­cite­ment. There were some who re­acted like Su­per­man to kryp­tonite and ran a mile from the hype, point­ing out that it’s just a baby.

But if we take off our party colours and make like we’re on Sur­vivor af­ter the tribes have merged, we could ac­knowl­edge this was a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment in his­tory for not just New Zealand, but maybe even the world.

Ardern be­came only the sec­ond serv­ing prime min­is­ter in his­tory to give birth. Awe­somely, it hap­pened on the birth­day of the first per­son to do so, the late great Be­nazir Bhutto from Pak­istan.

Fur­ther­more, Ardern is an un­mar­ried woman hav­ing a baby in a coun­try so old-school that, not so long ago, just that fact alone might have brought shame on a cou­ple. Once upon a time you cer­tainly wouldn’t have ad­mit­ted to an un­mar­ried preg­nancy if you had am­bi­tions for higher of­fice, and yet now this is our prime min­is­ter we’re talk­ing about.

In the past, only big events like a dis­as­ter or sport­ing suc­cess on the global stage had suf­fi­cient im­pact to make the gen­eral New Zealand pop­u­la­tion fo­cus on a sin­gu­lar news event.

But the ar­rival of Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gay­ford’s first child is not only first and fore­most won­der­ful news for them as new par­ents, but seems to have greater sig­nif­i­cance even be­yond these shores.

You can tell be­cause this event has even been backed up by New Zealand’s most tra­di­tional mea­sure of val­i­da­tion – be­ing no­ticed by peo­ple who live overseas. Ma­jor me­dia out­lets around the world were an­nounc­ing it to their vast au­di­ences.

Our for­mer leader He­len Clark wrote in The Guardian: ‘‘In the con­text of New Zealand, this is evo­lu­tion­ary, not rev­o­lu­tion­ary… For young women, the ex­am­ple Ardern is set­ting is an af­fir­ma­tion that they too can have that choice. For young men, Gay­ford be­ing the full-time carer of a baby sends a pow­er­ful mes­sage that they too can ex­er­cise that choice.’’

In a week where ba­bies have been seen to be treated so hor­ri­bly in the US – it was heart­warm­ing for the birth of a baby to be an ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated joy­ful event for not just one happy cou­ple and two ex­tended fam­i­lies, but for most of a coun­try of 4.8 mil­lion.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, part­ner Clarke Gay­ford... and baby makes three: a to­tally mod­ern, Kiwi fam­ily unit.

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