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.
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.