'That's 4.2 million godparents': New Zealand basks in 'first baby' glow

Charles Anderson in Auckland and Aimie Cronin
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern poses with her partner Clarke Gayford and their baby. Photograph: Getty Images

New Zealand is basking in a nationwide new baby glow after prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced the birth of her first child on Thursday.

The arrival of the as-yet-unnamed baby girl, dubbed the “first pēpi”, made it onto every major newspaper front page on Friday. The Press in Christchurch went with a pink banner. The New Zealand Herald had a special celebratory wrap-around. The Bay of Plenty Times splashed with “It’s a girl!”.

The “very fine and wonderful occasion” was also marked with a specially-commissioned poem by the poet laureate titled Jacinda and Clarke and Baby and Us.

“The baby’s here, the baby’s here! Aotearoa, New Zealand, what a year!” it began.

On Friday, Ardern posted a picture from Auckland Hospital of herself, the baby and her midwife. “One of the many special people we have been so grateful for over these past few months, our wonderful midwife Libby,” she wrote.

“Not only is she incredible at what she does, this morning she made me macaroni and cheese because she heard me mention a wee craving yesterday. Thank you so much for everything Libby!”

The prime minister is expected to spend a second night in hospital with her baby, who was reportedly described by nurses as “alert and very hungry”.

Meanwhile, columnist Michelle Duff suggested that all New Zealanders were now the child’s godparents.

“Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that we, as a nation, have pushed the boundaries and created an environment where this can happen. That’s 4.2 million godparents for you, little pēpi.”

Commentator Morgan Godfrey lauded the baby’s understated arrival.

“Jacinda Ardern arrived at hospital in her own car, with Clarke driving,” he wrote on Twitter. “No Crown limo or special ambulance. Her baby was delivered in a public hospital alongside everyone else’s. No private hospital. No extra special attention. New Zealand, remain your understated self.”

Ardern’s father Ross told Radio New Zealand that the grandparents were “very proud”.

“We’re a family that are fairly well grounded and to see this on the international media is absolutely different - I can say that without a shadow of a doubt.”