Friday 20 July 2018

New Zealand’s prime minister arrives at hospital for birth of her first child

Jacinda Ardern has handed the reins over to her deputy while she takes six weeks of leave.

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford during the Commonwealth meeting at Buckingham Palace (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford during the Commonwealth meeting at Buckingham Palace (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

By Nick Perry

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived at Auckland Hospital as she prepared to give birth to her first child.

The 37-year-old Ardern would become just the second elected world leader in modern times to give birth while in office, after the late Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto gave birth to daughter Bakhtawar in 1990.

Ms Ardern’s due date was June 17.

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New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern speaking in May (Nick Perry/AP)

The birth has been highly anticipated in the South Pacific nation of nearly five million people.

She has not said whether she is expecting a boy or a girl.

Ms Ardern’s office confirmed she had arrived at the hospital with partner Clarke Gayford.

Deputy prime minister Winston Peters has taken over as acting prime minister.

Ms Ardern plans to take a six-week leave before returning to work.

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Jacinda Ardern with Theresa May during the Commonwealth summit (Victoria Jones/PA)

Under the arrangement, Ms Ardern will still be consulted on major decisions, including issues of national security.

Ms Ardern has said she is confident the government will continue to run smoothly in her absence.

She said she hoped to be “sharing the good news” in an announcement but also to have some quiet time to enjoy as a family.

Asked earlier this month how the couple had been faring while trying to choose a name, Ms Ardern responded: “Terribly. Do you have any suggestions?”

Press Association

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