Clarke Gayford’s “surreal” moment when the world found out about Jacinda Ardern’s pregnancy

The first man of fishing had his hands rather full when the news broke - and we were right there to share the exciting moment with him.

Halfway through our Woman’s Day photo shoot, while Clarke Gayford is trying to wrangle a trio of gorgeous but hyperactive guide dog puppies for the camera, news comes through that the “first man of fishing” will soon be dealing with more than just an armful of cute canines.

Jacinda is pregnant!!!!!” reads the text message from our editor-in-chief, forcing the first-time father-to-be to juggle the squirming animals in order to cope with a flurry of congratulatory handshakes.

“I guess the word is out then,” says Clarke, 40, who has spent the morning touring the Blind Foundation Guide Dogs’ breeding and training centre in Auckland for his new role as the charity’s ambassador.

“It’s going to be a big year. Today is quite unusual.”

Indeed, Prime’s Fish of the Day presenter has to cut our shoot short so he can dash across town for a press conference discussing the historic news, so we squeeze into his car for a quick interview on the ride back.

Watch below the press conference Clarke was rushing to.

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Our chat is interrupted by several calls from Jacinda Ardern herself, allowing us to congratulate the prime minister too. It’s all a bit surreal, Clarke acknowledges.

“We’ve been bracing ourselves for this day for a while, telling friends over the last 24 hours,” he says.

“Some family obviously knew before that. It was a bit of a surprise, but we’ve been together for four years and we’d been planning a family well before Jacinda became Labour leader – the conversation started as soon as we got serious.

“I’m really excited. I’ve always wanted to be a dad. Being a typical Kiwi guy, I wasn’t particularly well organised in that department, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s worked out!”

Clarke calls himself Jacinda’s “semi-professional plus-one”.

Already, many of Clarke’s mates, including his former C4 co-presenter Jaquie Brown, have offered parenting advice, yet he says, “It’s one of those things where you can read all the books in the world, but until you’re doing it, you won’t have a good understanding.

“However, I’ve got a lot of friends with kids and I’ve seen the transformation they go through, so I realise it’s going to be life-changing.”

The couple haven’t revealed whether they’re having a boy or a girl, but Clarke is certain he wants their child to “grow up with a taste of the country”, with lots of trips back to his native Gisborne and Jacinda’s hometown of Morrinsville – and a family dog.

“I grew up on a farm, so I’d often be in the outdoors, just roaming around with my dog,” he says.

“We always had Labradors. They were an intrinsic part of my childhood. Dogs really connect with people and help them to develop empathy. The way they’ve evolved to look to their owners for everything, it’s a great way to realise there’s

a life outside yourself.”

Clarke’s taken up the charity mantle, and arm-full of puppies from Bronagh Key.

He and Jacinda, 37, have always wanted to get a dog together, but with their hectic work schedules, they decided it would be unfair on the poor pooch. Clarke says, “We had long discussions about which breed. It needed to be a practical dog that could come out fishing with me.

“We actually went to the SPCA a couple of times to have a look, but that was too hard – there were way too many we wanted.”

Their cat Paddles, who was sadly killed by a car last November, “was a compromise”, Clarke confesses.

“She was fiercely independent, but I was definitely the favourite. She’s buried in our garden and she’s got a little headstone. Of course I had a sob. Everyone was upset. Even the Prime Minister of Japan passed on his condolences.”

He and Jacinda talk about replacing Paddles “all the time”, but Clarke grins, “If we end up with a cat, a dog and a baby, we’re going to suddenly have a very full house.”

In the meantime, he’s getting his furry fix as an ambassador for the Blind Foundation, which is holding its Red Puppy Appeal street collection on March 23-24 to raise funds for the breeding and training of guide dogs.

“It was a no-brainer because I’ve always grown up with Labs,” he says of accepting the role, previously held by then-first lady Bronagh Key.

“As soon as I told Jacinda, she said, ‘You have to do this – I need the puppy pictures!’ She was pretty jealous of me hanging out with the dogs today. She can’t wait to come back with me and visit.”

How to donate to the blind foundation

After two years of specialist training, Blind Foundation Guide Dogs offer freedom and independence to those who are blind or have low vision by acting as their eyes, helping them complete day-to-day tasks such as going to work and the shops, and using public transport. The costs for breeding and training are fully funded by public donation and sponsorship. To support the Blind Foundation, look out for Red Puppy Appeal collectors on March 23 and 24, donate at or phone 0800 PUPPIES.

We know the PM is keen to get her hands on the full set of pictures from this shoot, so here they are, Jacinda!

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