New Zealand’s leader Jacinda Ardern has announced she will be “prime minister and mum”, revealing she is pregnant with her first child and learnt the news just days before she became prime minister-elect following her surprising election result last year.
Describing her partner Clarke Gayford as the future “’first man of fishing’ and stay at home dad”, Ms Ardern said the baby, due in June, was unexpected and they had been told by doctors that she could not become pregnant without “help”.
She is set to become only the second leader in modern times to give birth in office after Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s prime minister, whose daughter Bakhtawar was born in 1990.
“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,” Ms Ardern said on social media.
“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 can assure you we have a plan all ready to go!”
We thought 2017 was a big year! This year we’ll join the many parents who wear two hats. I’ll be PM & a mum while Clarke will be “first man of fishing” & stay at home dad. There will be lots of questions (I can assure you we have a plan all ready to go!) but for now bring on 2018 pic.twitter.com/nowAYOhAbF
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) January 18, 2018
Ms Ardern’s announcement was greeted by messages of support from well-wishers around the country and the world.
Bill English, the opposition leader, said: “It is an incredible privilege to be a parent. A new child will bring real joy to their lives. We wish them all the best.”
Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, congratulated his counterpart, adding: “When we spoke this morning you sounded more excited than you did when you won the election.”
Ms Ardern, 37, became the country’s youngest prime minister in more than 150 years in October after forming a coalition following her stunning election result which ended almost a decade of rule by the centre-right National Party.
Two months earlier, just hours after she became the youngest leader of the Labour party, she faced controversial questions from local reporters about whether she had plans to have children, saying the question was “totally unacceptable in 2017”.
“It is the woman’s decision about when they choose to have children," she said.
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Ms Ardern said Winston Peters, the deputy prime minister and an eccentric populist, will take her job for six weeks after her baby is born.
"Clarke and I are privileged to be in the position where Clarke can stay home to be our primary caregiver," she said.
"We consider ourselves lucky for another reason. Clarke and I have always been clear we wanted to be parents but had been told we would need help for that to happen. That’s made this news a fantastic surprise. We first knew of my pregnancy on the 13th of October, but as many couples do in the early stages, we kept it to ourselves.”
She said she had not revealed the news earlier as she wanted to wait until after the early stages of pregnancy.
Asked about the baby’s gender, she said: "We already know, but there is very little about our life we get to keep secret."