WELLINGTON—New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday, Jan. 19 that she was pregnant with her first child, as she declared “I’ll be a prime minister and a mum.”
Ardern said she planned to work until the end of her pregnancy in June and then take six-weeks leave, during which time Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters would run the country.
Speaking to reporters outside her Auckland home, Ardern said her partner Clarke Gayford would care for the “surprise” addition full-time and that the whole family would travel together when necessary.
“I am not the first woman to work and have a baby. I know these are special circumstances but there are many women who have done it well before I have,” she said.
“And we thought 2017 was a big year!” she wrote on Instagram.
And we thought 2017 was a big year! Clarke and I are really excited that in June our team will expand from two to three, and that we’ll be joining the many parents out there who wear two hats. I’ll be Prime Minister AND a mum, and Clarke will be “first man of fishing” and stay at home dad. I think it’s fair to say that this will be a wee one that a village will raise, but we couldn’t be more excited. I know there will be lots of questions, and we’ll answer all of them (I can assure you we have a plan all ready to go!) But for now, bring on 2018.
The popular 37-year-old politician’s pregnancy is one of the very few examples of an elected leader holding office while pregnant and the first in New Zealand’s history. Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto gave birth while she was prime minister in 1990.
Ardern, who came to power through a coalition deal after a closely fought election last year, has experienced a meteoric rise to power as New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in more than a century, and its third female leader.
Ardern’s rise to power has generated intense interest in her personal life and drew comparisons with other youthful leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau.
She was quick to assure the public that she would only take six weeks off, during which time she would still be contactable, so that the country would run as usual.
Ardern acknowledged that she was “lucky” that her partner, a well-known television fishing show presenter, could take time off to travel with her while he cared for the baby full-time.
She had no plans to stop work until June and would fly to London in April to attend a Commonwealth leader’s meeting.
Ardern revealed on Friday that she had unexpectedly found out she was pregnant on Oct. 13, just six days before she was propelled into the country’s top job when New Zealand First Party leader Peters announced he was siding with Labour in post-election negotiations.
When asked by a reporter how she had managed putting together a government while suffering from morning sickness, she replied, “it’s just what ladies do”.
By Charlotte Greenfield