19 Jan 2018

PM: 'It will be tough"

6:30 pm on 19 January 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's under no illusion about the difficulty of juggling parenthood and the prime ministership.

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford at their first media appearance after the announcement of the Prime Minister's pregnancy.

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford at their first media appearance after the announcement of the Prime Minister's pregnancy. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Ms Ardern, who became prime minister in October, announced this morning, via Instagram, that she and partner Clarke Gayford were expecting a baby in June.

Deputy prime minister Winston Peters will serve as acting prime minister for six weeks once the baby is born.

Speaking to Five O'Clock Report, Ms Ardern said after that, Mr Gayford would be full-time caregiver, but would travel with her, so that "I can be present as much as I can but also make sure that I am doing my job".

She was adapting quickly, hugely excited and said a plan was formed early on to make sure they were ready.

"Like many couples who make the decision over who's carer and who's going back to work, in our circumstances it just so happens to be me.

"I'm under no illusion, it will be tough. But together we're ready and I have great support around me."

During the six weeks she would take off, there would be four sitting weeks for Parliament, but this would not affect any planned international travel, she said.

She did not see any problem with deputy prime minister Winston Peters in the role of acting prime minister.

"Minister Peters and New Zealand First are in a coalition with Labour, they sit around the Cabinet table with us ... and so this will just change who sits at the helm during that period."

When she was named as the Labour leader, there were questions put to her about maternity plans, if any, and criticism of the line of questioning.

"For me I always knew I wanted kids. Because of my age I was often asked the question and I spoke honestly about wanting children.

I think though I started becoming a little bit more realistic about that prospect as I got older. And I've been open about the fact that we did get advice that we would need help in order for me to have a child," she said.

"We put on hold all of that aspiration, all of that thinking the moment that I became leader of the Labour party.

"As it turned out, nature had other plans."

Ms Ardern said it was exciting and unexpected. To an extent, there were privacy concerns but the couple lived in the public domain, she said.

"There's a certain degree to which we can 't do our jobs without, unfortunately, as a by-product, having some of that life lived publicly for our child, who hasn't chosen that."

She and Mr Gayford would do their best to leave their child with choices in the future.

"But our lives are public and we'll be sharing this with New Zealand."

Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime breastfeeds her newborn baby in Parliament. She said bringing a baby to the House posed some logistical challenges.

"One thing I will say is that it's very natural to do it and I do it all over the place. However, I still felt my heart racing. I knew that it would be captured on television and I knew that it might receive some criticism. It took a bit of a courage the first time to actually do that."

Former National Party MP Ruth Richardson said New Zealand had modernised its attitudes and its institutions.

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