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New Zealand's 'first baby' goes to the UN

September 25, 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern traveled to the UN with her 3-month-old baby Neve. The UN spokesman said: "No one is better qualified to represent her country than a working mother."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford with baby Neve
Image: Reuters/C. Allegri

As world leaders gather in New York for the annual meeting at the UN General Assembly, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived on Monday with her 3-month-old baby.

"First baby" Neve Te Aroha was able to enter the UN grounds with a special pass. The prime minister's baby is under the full time care of her father Clarke Gayford, who also joined the trip.

Ardern is New Zealand's youngest prime minister and the first to take maternity leave while in office. She is also only the second elected world leader to give birth during her tenure, after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto in 1990.

The 38-year-old prime minister has been in office for just a year and has brought an unprecedented amount of global attention to her nation of fewer than 5 million people.

Ardern has inspired many with her progressive platform, her support for women's causes and her leadership style.

Read more: Elections: Why New Zealand's left is making gains and Germany's is failing

As evidence of her popularity in the US, the prime minister is set to make the rounds with media outlets in New York, with scheduled appearances in the Today show, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and an interview with broadcaster CNN.

Clarke Gayford with baby Neve watch Jacinda Ardern's address at the UN
Clarke Gayford with baby Neve watched Prime Minister Ardern's address at the UNImage: Reuters/C. Allegri

Diaper changes at the UN

Earlier on Monday, Ardern spoke at the launch of the annual "Climate Week" event. She and her partner were photographed with baby Neve in the main assembly, during a plenary meeting known as the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, where she also spoke.

Gayford took to Twitter to share details about his and little Neve's first time at the UN, including a photo of the "first baby" ID. "Because everyone on twitter's been asking to see Neve's UN id, staff here whipped one up," Gayford wrote.

"I wish I could have captured the startled look on a Japanese delegation inside UN yesterday who walked into a meeting room in the middle of a nappy change. Great yarn for her 21st," Gayford added.

He also joked that, upon arrival in New York on Monday, baby Neve had kept them awake until 3:45 am, noting that babies don't care for time zones changes.

Read more: The frozen tears of New Zealand's melting glaciers

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN was delighted to see baby Neve in the General Assembly hall. "Prime Minister Ardern is showing that no one is better qualified to represent her country than a working mother. Just 5 percent of the world's leaders are women, so we need to make them as welcome here as possible," he said.

Prime Minister Ardern is set to meet with other leaders at the General Assembly to push her agenda of combating climate change, promoting global trade and supporting the rights of women and children.

So far at home, her government has passed measures to raise the minimum wage, increase support to low-income families and new parents and make New Zealand carbon neutral by 2050.

jcg/jm (AFP,AP, dpa)

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