New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern to stay put as birth nears
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday she plans to remain within driving distance of Auckland for the rest of this week as she prepares to give birth.
Ardern made the comments in Wellington before leaving for her home city. Her baby is due Sunday and would be the first child for her and partner Clarke Gayford.
The 37-year-old would become just the second 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.
Ardern said somebody suggested her rigorous travel schedule may be “tempting fate” and that it made sense for her to be grounded in one place.
“The impending arrival of a new addition to your family is an exciting time,” she said. “I have to admit though, of course, things like travel does add a little air of tension, because it means that you’re not just managing your own, you’re managing logistics in case things happen before you’re ready.”
Ardern plans to work up until the birth and then take a six-week leave of absence, during which time Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters will fill in as acting leader. Under the arrangement, Ardern would still be consulted on major decisions including issues of national security.
Ardern said she was confident the government would continue to run smoothly in her absence.
She said she’s planning to have the baby at Auckland Hospital and hoped to be “sharing the good news” in an announcement but also to have some quiet time to enjoy as a family.
Ardern has not said whether she’s expecting a boy or a girl.
Asked how the couple had been faring trying to choose a name, Ardern responded: “Terribly. Do you have any suggestions?”