Jacinda Ardern makes history with baby Neve at UN General Assembly

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has made history as the first female world leader to attend the United Nations general assembly meeting with her newborn baby in tow.

Ardern appeared with her infant daughter at the UN on Monday evening, and played with her before giving a speech at the Nelson Mandela peace summit. While she spoke, Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford held the three-month-old baby on his lap.

Ardern arrived in New York with her partner Clarke Gayford and their three-month-old daughter Neve Te Aroha, the Guardian reported.

“I have the ability to take my child to work, there’s not many places you can do that,” Ardern said, according to the Guardian.

Ardern, 38, became New Zealand’s third female prime minister and the world’s youngest female head of state in October 2017.

Ardern gave birth to Neve Te Aroha at Auckland Hospital on June 21 and returned to work in early August after taking six weeks maternity leave.

The prime minister is continuing to breastfeed her daughter, meaning Neve had to travel with her to New York for the six-day trip.

On Sunday, Ardern gave her first speech in New York at Unicef’s social good summit, restating her commitment to ending child poverty and making her country the best place in the world to be a child.

Ardern outlined the exceptional circumstances that make it possible for her to raise Neve while continuing as prime minister, which she has frequently stated she hopes will one day be the norm for all women wanting to balance a career and parenting.

“If I can do one thing, and that is change the way we think about these things, then I will be pleased we have achieved something.”

Asked by the Today show on the US NBC network if it was harder to govern New Zealand or take her daughter on a 17-hour flight, Ardern responded with a laugh and said “It felt at the time on par” and said she had apologised to her fellow passengers in advance.

Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford – a fishing television presenter – is Neve’s primary carer, and has travelled with Ardern to New York to look after the baby.

Last week the rules were tweaked in New Zealand to allow the prime minister or ministers to travel with a nanny on overseas assignments, and have this covered by the taxpayer.

However, Ardern said Gayford’s tickets to New York and expenses would be paid for out of her own pocket, because there were few official spousal engagements Gayford would be required to attend, and most of his time would be taken up caring for Neve.

Gayford posted a photo on Twitter on Monday of Neve’s security pass, which reads “first baby”.


Ardern has earned a reputation as a frugal leader who recently froze MPs salaries for a year and makes her ministers carpool to events.

Former Pakistani prime minister Benzir Bhutto is the only other world leader to give birth while in office when she had a baby girl in January 1990.

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