'Phenomenal' Ardern: NZ mothers-to-be on the birth of a new kind of prime minister (2023)

In mid-June Jacinda Ardern will become the second serving prime minister in history to give birth while in office. Ardern will take six weeks’ leave after giving birth and when she returns to work her partner, Clarke Gayford, will become a stay-at-home-dad.

Here, New Zealand women with babies due in the same month discuss what it means to have a pregnant prime minister, and how they will balance parenthood, work and a severe lack of sleep.

‘She is phenomenal’

Jaime Faulkner, 36, lives in the rural town of Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands. Married for 12 years to Nathan, a dairy farmer, Faulkner is expecting her fourth child – a girl – on 1 June. Together, the couple have five children. Nathan will not take any leave.

“When I heard the news, I wondered if Jacinda and I were due around the same time. My initial response was ‘wow, I wonder if we went to the same party.’

I was so happy for her, she is a phenomenal woman and to do what she does – she runs the country. All I do is run a little tribe. I am excited for her to be a mum and to experience that. I mean it does my head in every now and then, and you wish you could just have that one day to just be you, but you’d never change what you have once you’ve got it.

I have three jobs. I am a relief teacher at the local high school, waitress at a hotel and also a bartender at a local RSA [Returned and Services’ Association]. I work about 60-plus hours a week.

At home, my eldest is about to turn 16, then 15, then 13, then 12, then 7. I usually get home at midnight, then have a bit of a break and get to bed. Then it’s rinse, lather and repeat really.

[Our baby] was a complete surprise. Our last two pregnancies were surprises, too, because I was on contraceptive for both. And it was an absolute shock. It did change a lot of plans that we had, but it is a blessing in disguise, and probably what I need to slow me down a bit in terms of work and employment.

Once we found out, it was a matter of making it work. Basically with my mindset it is as easy or as hard as you make it.

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[Our baby] will be delivered by two women I went to high school with, and I trust them completely. We will have some traditional Māori practices when baby is born.

(Video) New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern On Normalising Motherhood In Politics | Lorraine

Her umbilical cord will be tied using plaited natural fibre from a flax bush. And her umbilical cord will be put with a piece of pounamu, a greenstone. And a karakia [Māori prayer].

I didn’t do this with the other children, it wasn’t really an option. The midwives I have now, they are offering it more these days. It is becoming more of a common practice.

Women have been doing it [juggling] for years and years and years. But they’ve never been in a position where they’ve been made an example of before.

I was talking to a young girl in town, and she said how can you work three jobs and be eight months pregnant and look after all your kids?

Jacinda’s pregnancy will encourage people and say to them ‘give it a go, it’s not as hard as you think it is’.”

'Phenomenal' Ardern: NZ mothers-to-be on the birth of a new kind of prime minister (2)

‘I get two days paid leave’

Rosie Whitley-Harford, 27, and husband Adam Harford,31, own their own home in the provincial east coast town of Gisborne, in the North Island. Adam is a school teacher and Rosie is a qualified early childhood educator. They are expecting their first child on 10 June.

Rosie: “We found out I was pregnant the day after I resigned. So that made it quite difficult. I was quite unwell for the first trimester, too, and then it dwindled off. It definitely wasn’t easy at the start. Adam would have to get up in the morning and do me Marmite on toast before I would even get out of bed.”

Adam: “Yeah had to, because even if she put her feet on the ground before she got toast in her she’d have a bad day.”

Rosie: “We know how important it is to have that one person at home. The first three years are so important. So we have decided to have me stay home, and maybe in a year’s time we can talk about me going back to work, or maybe I won’t want to.”

Adam: “Yeah, we have kind of set ourselves up to function off my sole income. So if Rosie needs to stay home, if we want her to stay home, then she can. We know we’re not going to get to go out to dinner every weekend, but that’s the life we’ve set up because that’s more important to us.”

Rosie: “Lots of people say after that paid parental leave stops, that’s when you realise how tight things can be.”

(Video) PM Jacinda Ardern holds Post-Cabinet press conference | nzherald.co.nz

'Phenomenal' Ardern: NZ mothers-to-be on the birth of a new kind of prime minister (3)

Adam: “We are learning to live within our means. Our type of car is not exactly luxurious. We eat plain meals. We don’t get the best cuts of steak. We live pretty Kiwi I suppose.”

Rosie: “Yeah, we’re pretty modest.”

Adam: “According to my collective agreement I get two days paid leave. I think if things go smoothly, a safe birth, we are hoping just for a week off eh?”

Rosie: “Yeah. I think love is a really big thing. That is our biggest thing, to portray love and kindness, so that is nurtured in the child.”

locator map of couples

I was really happy for her [Jacinda]. I thought it was so amazing she could show women in this country that you can be a mum, and you can still do all the other things that make you happy.

And a lot of people were quick to judge it, but at the end of the day she still has to live her life. She’s not just the prime minister.”

Adam: “I wasn’t really concerned with any of the political nonsense or her being able to carry her role out, I was just happy for her as a person.

I’m jealous as [of Clarke]. In the last few years I have thought it would be pretty awesome to be a stay-at-home dad. There’s kind of two things that count me out, the earning factor, and also Rosie is kind of the child whisperer.

‘We are privileged to have a prime minister who is going to know what it’s like’

Autumn Falk, a medical herbalist, and Jenni Werth, a former occupational therapist, own a medicinal tea business and live in Katikati, Bay of Plenty. They have a tea bar in a caravan which they take to markets and festivals.

Autumn: “It has been a really long process. It was early on in our relationship that we decided we wanted to have children.”

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Jenni: “About six years ago we met the father who is a really good friend of ours. And pretty much asked him straightaway and he was like ‘yeah, no problem’. Then, when it came down to it, I think it was a bit more serious thought involved.”

'Phenomenal' Ardern: NZ mothers-to-be on the birth of a new kind of prime minister (4)

Autumn: “He will be involved in kind of an uncle position. Obviously, the child will know this is their father, yeah. He will definitely have involvement and come and go I guess.”

Jenni: “He won’t have any decision-making rights around raising the baby, but he will definitely be involved.”

Jenni: “I will be full-time mothering for the first year, then we will see how it goes,

I have always wanted to parent, and Autumn is very content with going to work and providing. She is really happy doing that and I am happy being on the land and working in the gardens and being at home.”

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Autumn: “A lot of people speak to us and say ‘oh your baby is also due in June!’. Just like the prime minister’s one.”

Jenni: “We haven’t followed her pregnancy to the extreme. I am more intrigued with how much of a difference it might make in her understanding of what it’s like to be a working mum – and she’s obviously at one extreme of the spectrum.

I think we are really privileged in New Zealand to have a prime minister who is going to know what that’s like. Because a lot of the decisions that get made in this country are made by people who have no idea what it’s like to be in that situation, and to be outside of a situation and make decisions for a population … it’s a big ask.

Autumn: “I find this quite an extraordinary situation. She is a woman, there are not many countries with leading women in power, and she is young enough to be able to have a child. It is pretty impressive overall.”

(Video) New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern: 'I'm a mother, not a superwoman' - BBC News

Jenni: “I think this will give women a boost, of really believing anything is possible. I really hope for her sake she doesn’t get over-scrutinised with how she manages. But I think it is going to inspire a lot of women.”

Jenni: “I am worried about the lack of sleep.”

Autumn: “The question I am always asking myself is; is it [lack of sleep] really as bad as everyone says?”

Jenni: “It is probably way worse than everyone says.”

‘Lengthening paid parental leave would help’

Robin Burnell, 27, a franchise support worker for a cafe chain and her husband, Sam, 28, a plumber, live in Christchurch and are expecting their first child on 30 June.

Robin: “I grew up really wanting a family. It was really important for both of us. I am just very clucky, very keen on children, very keen on babies.

Change is always challenging, I think. And my normal becoming new is a little bit daunting. But I am really excited, too. A lot of people have talked about not realising how much love you could have for a baby until they are there.

'Phenomenal' Ardern: NZ mothers-to-be on the birth of a new kind of prime minister (5)

I plan to do six months off. And Sam would love a day at home with the baby as well.”

Sam: “I would love to stay home. But it is all money related. If I can stay home I really want to.”

Robin: “I have no idea how she [Jacinda] does what she does, and not look like she is struggling.

I don’t think she is setting the bar too high, because every pregnancy is different. I just think she is very brave and confident.

(Video) New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Gives Birth To Girl | TODAY

I think it would be awesome if the government reviewed how much paid parental leave is available to new parents. I know New Zealand is quite low down compared to other countries, which is hard when they don’t provide paid childcare until minimum two years old and most cases three years old.

It is quite a strain. I think we have a lot of good things in New Zealand, but lengthening paid parental leave would definitely help.”

FAQs

How much do NZ prime ministers get paid? ›

Privileges of office

MPs' salaries have been temporarily reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand—the prime minister's salary is NZ$471,049. In addition, like all other ministers and MPs, the prime minister receives annual allowances for travel and lodging, as do the prime minister's spouse and children.

Who are the female prime ministers of New Zealand? ›

There have been three women prime ministers: Jenny Shipley (1997–99), who led the National Party from 1997 to 2001; Helen Clark, the first elected woman prime minister (1999–2008), who was leader of the Labour Party from 1993 to 2008; and Jacinda Ardern, who became leader of the Labour Party in August 2017 and prime ...

Who is the youngest woman to serve as prime minister of New Zealand? ›

After negotiations, New Zealand First chose to enter a minority coalition government with Labour, supported by the Green Party, with Ardern as Prime Minister. She was sworn in by the Governor-General on 26 October 2017. She became the world's youngest female head of government at age 37.

Who was the first New Zealand born prime minister? ›

Norman Kirk. In 1972 Norman Kirk broke National's 12-year grip on the Treasury benches and became Labour's first New Zealand-born PM. Less than two years later he became the fifth PM to die in office.

Who is the highest paid person in NZ? ›

Forbes stated that Hart was the 274th richest person in the world as of March 2022.
...
Graeme Hart
Born1955 (age 66–67) New Zealand
EducationMount Roskill Grammar School
Alma materUniversity of Otago
OccupationBusinessman
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How much does a mayor earn NZ? ›

Auckland mayor Phil Goff will be paid $296,000 in the coming 12 months. Auckland mayor Phil Goff remains the best-paid mayor in the country on $296,000. Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel will be paid $195,000 for the year from July 1, 2021, and Wellington mayor Andy Foster will receive $180,500.

Can a prime minister be fired? ›

If a Prime Minister has been defeated by a vote of no confidence, a refusal by the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament would, in effect, force the Prime Minister to resign and make way for a successor.

How many times prime minister can be elected? ›

The prime minister serves at 'the pleasure of the president', hence, a prime minister may remain in office indefinitely, so long as the president has confidence in him/her. However, a prime minister must have the confidence of Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India.

How long can you be prime minister? ›

A prime minister stays in office until they resign, die or are dismissed by the Governor General. Two prime ministers have died in office (Macdonald and Sir John Thompson). All others have resigned, either after losing an election or upon retirement.

Who was the youngest female prime minister ever? ›

"Who is Sanna Marin, the world's youngest prime minister?".

Who is youngest president in the world? ›

Since 1900, the youngest serving state leader has been 192-day-old Fuad II, King of Egypt (left), while the oldest has been 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms (right).

Who has been our youngest prime minister? ›

William Pitt the Younger was the youngest prime minister ever appointed (at age 24).

Who is the longest serving prime minister in NZ? ›

Richard Seddon, Prime Minister for thirteen years between 1893 and 1906, held the office for the longest term. The youngest prime minister was Edward Stafford, who assumed office at age 37, and the oldest was Walter Nash, who left office at age 78.

How many New Zealand prime ministers have died in office? ›

Prime Ministers who died in office: Ballance (1893), Seddon (1906), Massey (1925), Savage (1940), (Ward died a month after he resigned as Prime Minister, 1930). Number who have held Warrant as Prime Minister: (To September 1962) 27.

How many Labour prime ministers have there been? ›

The Labour Party sits on the centre-left of the political spectrum. In all general elections since 1922, Labour has been either the governing party or the Official Opposition. There have been six Labour prime ministers and thirteen Labour ministries.

Who is the richest family in NZ? ›

NBR lists richest Kiwis
  • Todd family – $4.3 billion (2021: $4.3b) ...
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  • Alan Gibbs – $760 million (2021: $650m) ...
  • Sam Morgan – $650 million (2021: $580m) ...
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May 30, 2022

Who is the richest woman in NZ? ›

The founder of the Kathmandu retail chain, Jan Cameron, is cited as New Zealand's richest woman with an estimated wealth of $75 million.

Is NZ or Aus better? ›

In 2019, New Zealand was ranked as the second safest country in the world. New Zealand has a lower crime rate than Australia. Plus, you won't have to worry about any snakes!

How much does the Governor-General earn NZ? ›

The salary payable to the Governor-General under section 5(1) of the Governor-General Act 2010 is $377,100 a year.

Do NZ MPs get a pension? ›

For MPs elected before 1992, who have served consistently since that date, there is an entitlement to membership of the Government Superannuation Fund (GSF) scheme, which provides for a pension on leaving Parliament that reflects years of service.

How much does the CEO of Air NZ make? ›

O'Brien continued to say that "it is relevant because it speaks to how much people on much, much higher incomes would be getting with your tax cuts and those on comparatively lower incomes." O'Brien said the last sum she had seen that would represent that CEO pay packets were around $4.6 million NZD.

How much does the Auckland Mayor earn? ›

$296,000

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