Gayford tries to defend Ardern’s no show on Nation & Q+A

Journalists were already getting a bit snarky over Jacinda Ardern’s withdrawal from two scheduled weekend interviews, but consternation levels have risen after Clark Gayford tried to defend Ardern on Twitter.

Interviews with both Newshub Nation today and the other with Q+A tomorrow evening were de-scheduled by ardern. The reason given by the Prime Minister’s office was ‘a diary problem’, but there has been a lot of scepticism over that, especially as she cancelled both interviews, having already pulling out twice from Nation interviews this year.

Sam Sachdeva at Newsroom in Ardern’s chance to change the narrative:

The cancellation of planned media appearances with Newshub, TVNZ and Newstalk ZB, all put down to “diary issues”, will not help her; hell hath no fury like a journalist scorned.

Contrast that with a number of recent interviews with international media that have resulted in gushing profiles (a recent piece from the New York Times being aptly skewered by Mclauchlan), and the cognitive dissonance between glowing overseas coverage and the more complex reality of domestic politics could start to hit home.

This morning:

Watkins:

Hi. It was in The Nation’s diary. And presumably Q+A’s, tho I haven’t spoken to them. Even if she only found out about them on Thursday, she could still have done them. So I don’t accept ‘incorrect’. And why pull out twice earlier this year? I’ve never known a PM to do this.

And given your media experience, I’m sure you appreciate the difference between a studio interview and a stand up. But thanks for taking the time to tweet!

There have been a lot of very defensive tweet…

..but they can’t paper over what is an unprecedented intervention in the Prime Minister’s diary and media matters by their partner.

And to try to swing this to “hurting NZ greater than anything else at this time” is remarkable.

Ardern and now Gayford are hurting their relationship with media, and that may not turn out well for them.

Ardern risks being hoist by her own celebrity PR petard

Jacinda Ardern has received international attention since becoming Prime Minister. Some of this is legitimate news, but some of it seems to be jacked up PR, usually more personal pap than political analysis.

This probably shouldn’t be unexpected, international media seems more interested in superficial celebration of so-called celebrities generally, and there is usually little interest in New Zealand politics.

But what is Ardern trying to achieve? She is receiving attention, but she risks being entrenched as a superficial celebrity without political substance.

She should try to sort out her leadership and Government in New Zealand before taking on the world.

Ardern seems to have favoured status at the UK Guardian which at times seems to be a PR arm of Ardern’s office. here are some recent efforts:

Is she planning on standing for election in the United Kingdom?

And not just Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford is amping the PR as well.

And, suggested by some as preparation for a trip to the United States, Ardern has featured in a New York Times promotion:

SUNDAY REVIEW

Lady of the Rings: Jacinda Rules

Jacinda Ardern, one of the young, progressive leaders countering Donald Trump, talks about being only the second world leader to give birth.

Global hype continues to paint Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a cliche

Jacinda Ardern was an MP for nine years before becoming Labour’s saving grace.

Yet a new piece the in New York Times was still focused on her shorts-wearing partner and the happiness club she founded when she was eight.

Well-known for her coverage inside the Trump White House, columnist Maureen Dowd labelled Ardern as “Lady of the Rings”.

In an instant, Dowd meshed together a retrograde label with a 15-year-old movie reference and proved we haven’t moved past the shallow caricatures that have come to define us as a nation.

It just seems the international media can’t get past our leader’s novelty value.

Dowd presents our PM as having perpetual sunniness and being someone who would call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then yell: “OMG, Justin! Are you seeing this?”.

But where is the political meat you would expect from sit-down interviews with an international leader?

The real “Jacindamania” is not the rush of enthusiasm that swept her into leadership.

Rather, it’s the permanent psychosis that has taken hold of global media, preventing real debate of our country’s policies and role in the world.

It leaves Ardern battling a caricature of herself and New Zealand still stuck at the kids’ table where we are described through the lens of a “hip” liberal leader and, inevitably, a few Lord of the Rings references.

Based on the myriad of international media coverage, she is just that unwed working mother representing the “anti-Trump” in the Trumpian age.

Reporters with extraordinary access like Dowd should use that privilege to ask real questions to inform.

Everything else is a disservice.

So why would Ardern go along with this sort of lightweight coverage?

Gayford is a willing partner in this:

 In a sartorial triumph, Ardern wore a feathered Maori cloak to meet Queen Elizabeth at a black-tie dinner in London.

“It was highly coveted among the princesses at the dinner,” Ardern’s partner, Clarke Gayford, told me. “They made a beeline for her, and I’m surprised she managed to leave wearing it, to be completely honest.”

The boyish and charming Gayford, the 40-year-old host of a TV fishing show who smiles with delight no matter how many times he is asked “Is Jacinda your greatest catch?” would be the stay-at-home dad who would show the way for modern men.

She calls Gayford Huckleberry Finn, because he often wears shorts, even for interviews, and wanders around with a fishing pole.

On another day, when I came to interview Gayford, Ardern’s mother, Laurell, is there, helping with the baby.

President Trump will be presiding over the United Nations Security Council when the General Assembly meets in New York later this month. The prime minister will be trying to combine mothering and traveling again, this time hopefully with less ludicrous commentary. She will be juggling more than 40 events in seven days, with Neve and Gayford as part of the entourage.

Gayford also appears to be embracing the celebrity style coverage.

She (Dowd) gets what? She gets how Ardern and Gayford want to be seen, as a modern celebrity couple and parents who manage to fit in a bit of running the country when not being interviewed by sycophant reporters?

Like a significant number of Americans will support Trump no matter how crazy he seems, Ardern is sure to keep a solid level of support in New Zealand based on her celebrity (Woman’s Weekly) style coverage.

But if she continues to look subservient to Winston Peters, and fails to deliver on her promises to deal to child poverty and other ‘revolutions’ that are little more than empty rhetoric so far, and if she fails to live up to her claims of being open and transparent (she has been severely challenged on that lately), she may find that her party’s popularity doesn’t hold up as well as her celebrity status.

Ardern may find it difficult to move from celebrity saccharine to serious leadership. She may end up being hoist by her own celebrity PR petard.

The Prime Minister and baby balancing act

Jacinda Ardern ‘returned to work’ in her role of Prime Minister yesterday. Sort of. She took over prime ministerial responsibilities from acting PM Winston Peters, but remained in Auckland (she will return to parliament next week).

Ardern released selected photos of her, Clarke Gaygord and baby Neve, and gave some media interviews that focussed a lot on the baby and how that would affect her work.

It may have been laid on a bit thick, and it was slammed by some (the types who would slam anything done by Ardern, but I think generally this was a reasonable way to start. There was always going to be a lot of attention given to the mother-baby stuff, so best to give the media something.

As long as it mostly stays at that. That is up to the media to be reasonable, and also up to Jacinda not to exploit it with orchestrated distractions – she pulled a stunt like that on Sunday which appeared to be a deliberate attempt to distract from Simon bridges at the National Party conference.

Ardern is extremely lucky to be able to integrate parenting with her work. Most parents are either not able to do that, or choose to devote work time to work and make arrangements for baby care. I’ve done that (quite a while ago), being responsible for night time feeds with expressed milk while the mother was away working.

Teachers, nurses, police, fire, ambulance, retail, hospitality, court, construction – most parents who work know that it simply isn’t feasible (or professional) to care for a baby during their work hours.

So highly paid prime ministers and MPs are a very privileged minority when it comes to this.

Ardern wants to change attitudes to mothers and work. It may change how mothers can work as politicians, but it is unlikely to change the practicalities and realities for most parents.

It will now be up to Ardern and the media to get the right balance of work versus parent coverage.

I’m fine with Ardern giving occasional stage managed coverage of her family – so long as she doesn’t exploit this for publicity and political purposes.

She still has a very important job to do, a job she volunteered to do and negotiated her way into. As a mother of a baby she should be cut a bit of slack, but she has a challenging balancing act ahead of her.

There is no way she can escape the spotlight. She may well shine as a working mother, but she risks a voter backlash if she abuses her family situation politically.

Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford

To those who are interested, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford is leaving hospital this morning, if she gets past all the cameras and questions.

And as far as babies go, she does like very cute.

Having a first baby is a very special time for parents and family. I hope they manage to weather the media storm without too many problems.

Ardern finished with a word of thanks to the public. Jacinda and Clarke are looking very good together with their baby Neve.

Prime Minister having a baby is a big deal

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford now have a baby daughter. This is a big deal to them personally, and it is also a big deal in ways for New Zealand, although it isn’t a big deal in the whole scheme of things.

Not a big deal

One baby born is a very small deal in the whole scheme of things. It’s something that happens to everyone.

Some statistics on births:

  • about 130 million babies born in the world per year (about 356,000 per day)
  • 59,610 births in New Zealand in 2017 (163 per day)
  • about 7200 births in Auckland City per year (about 19 per day)

So one birth is small fry.

A big deal on a personal level

The birth of a child is a very big deal for Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford.

The birth of a child, especially a first child, is one of the most significant events for most parents in their lifetime, if not the biggest deal.

I have experienced three births personally, and these were all a big deal for me, and they still are. My children are my biggest and proudest achievement.

A big deal on a national level

A Prime Minister having a child would be a big deal anywhere in the world, and it certainly is here.

It sends an important signal that having children is normal, and that women can have a child while keeping wider responsibilities and continuing in important jobs.

We can expect top see more of the integration of babies with Parliament. There are several MPs with babies, and Julie Anne Genter is pregnant, but Jacinda’s baby is likely to receive the most attention, probably by far.

Some buts…

But it should be pointed out that Ardern is in a privileged position. Most women don’t have the money or the work flexibility that she has. Ardern says she will continue to work while in ‘maternity leave’ so presumably will continue to be paid her $471,049 annual salary plus many expenses ($9,058 per week before tax).

It has been overhyped by some, especially manic media. That looks certain to continue.

Questions have been asked and will continue to be asked about how Jacinda and Clarke manage the media in relation to having a child. It is a difficult balancing act that will always attract criticism. Some may be justified. Most likely won’t be justified.  The worst is likely to come from people with political motives or political intolerance, a sad reality of politics in New Zealand.

Life will go on

Hopefully the baby will grow up without too many hiccups. Hopefully Jacinda and Clarke will manage their home\/work balance ok.

Hopefully Winston Peters will manage his extended responsibilities as acting Prime Minister ok.

Hopefully Ardern won’t suffer too much from any post-natal issues, and will be able to slot back in fully as Prime Minister after her maternity leave.

The country will keep chugging away, probably with minimal disruption.

And life will go on much as per normal for most of us, if we can manage to avoid the media obsession with celebrity and personal trivia – the birth of a child is a big deal to parents and close family, but most births are meaningless to most of us.

 

Odd claim of Gayford rumour – by Gayford

And odd comment from Clarke Gayford in a Guardian interview about rumours, repeated by NZH: Clarke Gayford on vicious rumours and raising a baby with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

It’s odd for a number of reasons, that it has come via a Guardian interview (Jacinda Ardern has featured in the Guardian before), that Gayford has kept the rumour mill alive, but mostly that he mentions a rumour that there seems to be no evidence of.

Clarke Gayford has revealed he’s been forced to tone down his social media behaviour after being smeared as the subject of a false rumour campaign.

It would have been prudent for Gayford to ‘tone done’ when Ardern became Prime Minister regardless of inevitable rumours.

Gayford, in an interview with Britain’s the Guardian, said the saga had forced him to make changes.

“If I talk about it now, it just pours more petrol on it.”

And he has talked about it to the Guardian.

But he had felt compelled to rein in having “a good rant on Facebook” and had felt “like a right chump” having to edit his own Wikipedia page to remove another false rumour – that he had once been a police cadet, the Guardian reported.

Here it is in the Guardian interview: Clarke Gayford on fatherhood, food and fending off sharks

What was it like to be smeared?

“If I talk about it now, it just pours more petrol on it,” he says. But the instinct to watch his behaviour, already instilled by a life in the media, have been sharpened since meeting Ardern four years ago. While he’s had to rein in his enthusiasm for “a good rant on Facebook” – and has felt “like a right chump” editing his own Wikipedia page because the fake news that he was once a police cadet kept coming up in interviews – he keeps coming back to the “higher cause” of social justice and environmental action he sees Ardern getting on with.

However Graeme Edgeler can’t find any evidence that the rumour appear on Wikipedia.

I haven’t heard the police cadet rumour anywhere before. This seems an odd claim by Gayford.

Perhaps Gayford should consider reigning in his Guardian interviews. It’s hard to understand him doing  interviews like this – does he think he will get international sympathy without getting any attention in New Zealand? He must understand how the Internet works.

A record of some rumourmongering

This is a record of one individual who has attempted some Gayford rumourmongering here, in a narrow focus on an issue that has been spread across various media. It doesn’t attempt to answer where the rumours came from (I think it’s likely they evolved from different sources and sort of coalesced).

‘Bill Brown’ threw a bit of a wobbly after an inevitable outcome here yesterday after blatantly ignoring clear warnings about what should not be said about the Clarke Gayford issue  – in particular promoting unsubstantiated (fake) allegations.

First, misuse of Gayford’s name as ‘Gaylord’, and indications of intent to attack him, were evident as far back as a 22 September post at Whale Oil, and on 24 October in comments on a personal attack post at Whale Oil comments suggest intent to target Gayford on ‘social media’ and on WO (two separate media):

Whale Oil has run a number of personal attack posts targeting both Gayford and Ardern since then, as recently as yesterday, but this is just some background to the wider attacks on Gayford in particular. Whale Oil have denied being involved in any way in circulating rumours that the legal letter relate to (some comments on WO have disputed this), but regardless of that they have been running a series of personal attacks on Gayford over a number of months (ample evidence of this remains public).

To ‘Bill Brown’, who has a record of interest in this issue dating back to two comments here on Your NZ on 26 November last year:

I wonder how Clarke Gaylorde is liking the DPS watching his every move ……

Also:

Lol. I was wondering about his [redacted]

That inferred allegations that I presume this week’s legal letter warned against disclosing.

Sunday 29 April 2018 (before this week’s story broke):

If the rumours are true the court appearance is already done. The DCJ is mulling the sentence options.

Unless the Police have lied in their statement this must be false. As far as I have seen this line of attack has largely been dropped since the Police statement. Also on Sunday:

Diplomatic passports a great thing when one is [redacted]

Another very specific reference, also with no evidence, and also false if the Police statement is accurate.

Thursday 3 May:

You are correct PG that it started around Oct last year – around the time [redacted]

Another specific reference.

Friday 4 May:

The Gayford story is one of the best examples of the Stresiend Effect ….. ever.

The  ‘Streisand Effect’ has also been promoted on Kiwiblog and Whale Oil (and probably elsewhere), but this has been somewhat thwarted by the media abiding by the legal letter and not publishing details of allegations. Trying to force a ‘Streisand Effect’ – provoking someone to deny (sometimes false or ridiculous) allegations to create negative publicity – is sometimes used as a dirty political tactic.

Saturday 5 May:

Clarke is [redacted]

With the charges rumours dealt to by the police statement this was a switch to another quite specific common allegation that I have seen around for a while, again with no evidence. Even if there was some basis it should be a personal matter and no business of the public – it is a form of dirty attack which appears to me to be an attempt to destabilise the Prime Minister and the Government (however I know of people who get some sort of perverse pleasure from just ‘fucking people over’).

When ‘Bill Brown’ got the inevitable and obvious outcome for blatantly ignoring warnings and requests they responded:

Like I care you dick

Some may care about what he has tried to promulgate, alongside commenters at Kiwiblog (some tried again yesterday but DPF has been moderating now), alongside the Twitter campaign and alongside the targeting of Gayford on Whale Oil, and elsewhere. One unhinged website with extreme allegations on this and other issues has been linked to from various blogs (no name or links allowed here).

There is no public evidence that this is anything other than different people independently doing something similar – targeting and attacking Gayford and Ardern in a variety of ways.

Despite some alleging National Party involvement and others  alleging that it’s an internal Labour Party hit job I have seen no evidence of either.

In the absence of evidence any allegations or rumours should at least be regarded with much skepticism, if not discounted as made up fake allegations.

However I think that an unprecedented degree of targeting of the partner of the Prime Minister has been taking place, and this is an insidious turn for the worse in New Zealand politics. There are associated issues of importance, but I think the scale and type of attacks that have taken place and continue to take place need to be confronted and strongly condemned – with some legal caution.

Allowing discussion on this is important.

However any comments that I feel are too specific, name people with allegations with no evidence, are a potential legal risk, or I otherwise think are inappropriate, may be edited or deleted. Note that sometimes comments here can be parked out of sight until I have time to properly deal with them, and I am not always readily available.

Kiwiblog still has problems

Some blogs appear to have had a legal shake up this week over the Gayford rumour mongering. One blog has been having a big sook and claiming to be the big victim. They are full of contradictions and irony. This takes the cake:

One thing I have learned in politics is that when a political party accuses some other party or individuals of heinous political crimes then they are actually projecting their own actions and abilities against those they accuse.

This is a well known tactic. From what I’ve seen over the years that its exactly what they themselves often do.

At least they have fairly tight moderation and largely seem to have filtered out attempts to hint around the legal letter sent out to some media.

However this issue has highlighted a longstanding problem with Kiwiblog. It’s biggest strength is it’s biggest weakness – it’s very light moderation and very little monitoring. This has encouraged open and free flowing discussions, and there are some gems if you look for them.

But it has also allowed a culture of abuse to become established, as well as enabling the pushing of legal boundaries. This made it a forum of choice for some of those intent on pushing Gayford rumours.

Stuff: Where did the false Clarke Gayford rumours come from?

One early April post on right-leaning site Kiwiblog featured a whole thread discussing the rumours as a “personal scandal” in the comment section, with several commenters with thousands of other comments to their name spreading them.

This probably about the time the rumours picked up steam, but they had originated from months earlier.

That thread remained up on Wednesday, but was soon deleted after Stuff contacted Kiwiblog editor David Farrar for comment.

Farrar told Stuff he deletes defamatory content when it is brought to his attention.

From my own experience he does this promptly and responsibly.

With two million comments and counting on the site it was difficult to keep on top of everything, and he didn’t routinely read the comments on every post.

“When you get that level of comments you can’t go and read them all, you can’t go and read them all it would just take hours every day,” Farrar said.

For a small blog it can be difficult, but for forum the size of Kiwiblog it would be very difficult. Yesterday’s General Debate had 500 comments.

“I tried searching to see if I could proactively find some of it, and actually it’s really hard because people don’t necessarily use the name you would think, they sometimes use nicknames etc. It is really difficult.”

He had suspended several users over comments concerning the Gayford rumours.

To that extent a good response, but the problem persists. Some of those intent on keeping the rumours going have switched tack, to ‘where there’s smoke’ and trying to talk up a Streisand’s effect. As well as trying a conspiracy angle of blaming it all on Labour.

This has turned into a story about the Left slandering National and it’s supporters with false allegations.

The most credible story I have heard is that these rumors came from within Labour and were just gossip about Ardern’s bit of rough. They were not politically motivated or anything new. Now she is promoted beyond her ability its a problem.

“I have heard” is not evidence. It is a common way of trying to spread dirty rumours.

But Farrar has a bigger problem – continuing attempts to hint at what the rumours were about. I have seen two examples already today.

This is a problem Farrar has created for himself to an extent, but having such a hands off approach to monitoring and moderation. But if he doesn’t find a way of dealing with it he could have difficulties.

Another problem for Farrar is his openly disclosed association with National. By allowing Kiwiblog to be used as an attack and rumour mongering forum he is giving opponents of National free shots with claims of ongoing dirty politics.

But changing a culture that has become established virtually unfettered for a decade won’t be easy.

Discussion points on Gayford issue

The Clarke Gayford rumour issue has raised a number of issues worth discussing, albeit with care given legal situations. I have mixed views.

The legal gag

Lawyers acting for Gayford effectively gagged the media and some blogs, warning them that publishing details of the rumours could risk legal action.

I have in effect abided by this, in part because I don’t want to take any unnecessary legal risks, but also because I am happy to enforce something I was already doing, discouraging posting of rumours that had no facts to back them up. This is a general principle here.

This is a choice I have made, but it doesn’t prevent ‘free speech’, anyone is free to publish what they like on other public forums like Twitter and Facebook and take their own risks.

Police Statement

In an unusual move the Police issues a statement saying that they had not been investigating Gayford – “While in general we do not respond to enquiries which seek to confirm if individuals are under police investigation, on this occasion we can say that Mr Gayford is not and has not been the subject of any police inquiry, nor has he been charged in relation to any matter.”

It’s fair to question whether the police should have got themselves involved like this.

I don’t think there is any chance that the police did this at the request of the Prime Minister as some have claimed, I think it was a choice they made when they knew the Herald were going to publish their story.

I, general I don’t have a problem with the police statement – there was an unprecedented campaign of rumour mongering that was obviously aimed at damaging Jacinda Ardern and the government. The Police effectively defused the accusations.

Dirty politics

There has been a lot of angst over a couple of words Ardern included in her brief response – ‘dirty politics’.

This was seen by some, with some justification, as trying to link the National Party with the rumour campaign. Some went as far as blaming National – two of note to do this were Labour staffer Neale McMillan, and ex green MP Darien Fenton.

This is unfair as their is no evidence of National involvement. There has been mentions of ‘National supporters’ being involved, but that’s a very loose connection.

But I don’t have any problem with describing this as dirty politics, for two reasons.

It was dirty smearing and there are clear political connections, so it is dirty politics.

And it trashes the claims of some that ‘Dirty Politics’ is a term that can only be used in relation to National Party black ops. I see dirty politics from Labour as well as from National, and also from Greens. And Winston Peters made some dirty insinuations on this issue, as he often does. Dirty dealings with politics involved is dirty politics.

Where there’s smoke…

As son as the rumours were debunked a number of commenters popped up on KB and WO stating ‘where there’s smoke…’ – and a new ID repeated that here yesterday.

This is either disingenuous or ignorant. I have seen no evidence supporting the rumour. There is no smoke, so trying to promote this is just more dirt mongering.

The large mammal in the room.

Someone commented here yesterday:

Yet that is exactly what your post is attempting to do, ie spread the rumour that a hinted at party is behind the rumours and you are attempting to smearing them in a weasely manner with innuendo without any evidence! You really take the cake Pete.

This is nonsense. I have said a number of times that I have seen no evidence that a party ‘is behind the rumours’. I personally don’t think any party was behind them.

SB seems to be showing a bit of anxiety here, perhaps with good reason. There is ample evidence that a particular blog has posted what I see as fairly dirty attacks on both Ardern and Gayford since the election (since before the rumours in question began). There is other evidence that I’m sure a number of regulars here will be aware of that that blog has at least aided the rumour mongering. And then they whine when they get challenged on it.

I’m choosing not to name them and not to present or link to evidence, but there is evidence, and that may well be what has them spooked. Hissy fitting here won’t undo the risks they have taken – risks they should be well aware of given other long running legal problems.


NOTE: no details or hints of the nature of the rumours are to be posted here, or linked to from here.

Jacinda Ardern’s pregnancy announcement

Jacinda Ardern’s announcement yesterday that she was pregnant was big news, here in New Zealand of course but it also registered around the world.

First up – there is no reason at all why any woman, and any female politician, shouldn’t be able to manage work and a pregnancy and bringing up a child as long as they remain in good health, as most women having children do in the modern age. That includes the Prime Minister.

Ardern’s announcement:

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.

No automatic alt text available.

I thought that the fish hooks seemed a bit quaint given Clarke Gayford is into fishing, but they also have relevant symbolism in the Maori world.

Stuff: What’s with Ardern’s fish hooks? 

RNZ has details – As it happened: PM announces pregnancy

  • She made the announcement on Instagram first, then Twitter.
  • The baby is due in June.
  • Clarke Gayford will be a stay at home dad.
  • Winston Peters will take on the role of Acting Prime Minister for six weeks after the baby is born.
  • Ms Ardern said they found out about the pregnancy on Friday 13 October.
  • Politicians from at home and abroad are reaching out to congratulate the pair.
  • Social media users are also reaching out saying that it is “wonderful news”.
  • Ms Ardern said the baby will take Clarke’s last name.
  • Ms Ardern said it was a “happy surprise” and that she is not the first woman to “work and have a baby”.
  • The announcement makes Ms Ardern one of the only head of state in recent times to be pregnant while in office. A first for the western world, the only other recorded political head of government to give birth was Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.
  • Ms Ardern said she intended to be fully contactable and available throughout the six-week period.

Ardern acknowledges “It will be tough”

Speaking to Five O’Clock Report, Ms Ardern said after that, Mr Gayford would be full-time caregiver, but would travel with her, so that “I can be present as much as I can but also make sure that I am doing my job”.

She was adapting quickly, hugely excited and said a plan was formed early on to make sure they were ready.

“Like many couples who make the decision over who’s carer and who’s going back to work, in our circumstances it just so happens to be me.

“I’m under no illusion, it will be tough. But together we’re ready and I have great support around me.”

Becoming a mother and adapting to being a parent, especially for women with careers, can be tough, but it is something that it’s a no brainer to support.

“For me I always knew I wanted kids. Because of my age I was often asked the question and I spoke honestly about wanting children.

I think though I started becoming a little bit more realistic about that prospect as I got older. And I’ve been open about the fact that we did get advice that we would need help in order for me to have a child,” she said.

“We put on hold all of that aspiration, all of that thinking the moment that I became leader of the Labour party.

“As it turned out, nature had other plans.”

Ms Ardern said it was exciting and unexpected.

The timing with last year’s election is coincidental. One could perhaps asked why Ardern didn’t take precautions (contraception) at such a big time for her political career, but one could also say ‘why should she?’.

“There’s a certain degree to which we can ‘t do our jobs without, unfortunately, as a by-product, having some of that life lived publicly for our child, who hasn’t chosen that.”

She and Mr Gayford would do their best to leave their child with choices in the future.

“But our lives are public and we’ll be sharing this with New Zealand.”

This is going to be one of the biggest challenges for Ardern and Gayford. There will be no avoiding intense media attention – this is unprecedented in New Zealand, and could be likened to a royal baby in the UK. I can’t remember a big fuss over babies here since the Lawson quins were born in the 1960s.

She did not see any problem with deputy prime minister Winston Peters in the role of acting prime minister.

“Minister Peters and New Zealand First are in a coalition with Labour, they sit around the Cabinet table with us … and so this will just change who sits at the helm during that period.”

One could query the validity of a 7% leader being Prime Minister (acting), but Peters is more experienced than any other MP so should be able to manage it.

Government is more than one person, it is a Cabinet led by a Prime Minister. It should be able to function perfectly adequately without the presence of the PM – in fact it already does at times the PM is out of the country.

This is excellent news for Ardern and Gayford. It will be over-reported, but if that can be managed then it should be a special time for them, first children always are.

And the country should manage fine.