How Jacinda Ardern’s first day back at work went – which included the sharing of a poonami story

Kiwi media didn't hold back with their questions on the PM's first day back.
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On her first day back on the job after six weeks’ maternity leave Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave interviews about how she’s going to juggle the top job with being a new mum.

Her interview with TVNZ political reporter Jessica Mutch showed a fervent Prime Minister who is keen to prove she is more than capable of handling both roles. She was eager to point out that while her job was “not a normal job” neither was the position she was in, where she had a lot of help and support and was fortunate to be in a role where she could have her baby with her some of the time.

“Are you ready to come back to work?” was the first question Mutch asked.

“Absolutely,” was Ardern’s emphatic response. “I feel like I’ve been gifted – by the New Zealand public, by my team and with the help of the acting Prime Minister – this time to be with Neve which has been wonderful but, of course, there’s unique circumstances and I’m really keen to go back to work.”

Is it harder to go back to work than you thought it was going to be? Mutch ploughed deeper.

“No, I always expected that given she’s still so young and so small that, yeah, that there would be a real tension there between making sure that I was meeting all of her needs and of course my responsibilities. I have always been aware of that but I’m confident with all of the support that I’m very lucky to have that we will absolutely make it work.”

Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford released two new images of themselves in their new Sandringham home with baby Neve on Ardern’s first day back at work. The images were taken by Derek Henderson.

Ardern revealed that her six weeks’ maternity leave were the fastest six weeks she had ever lived. She felt she and partner Clarke Gayford’s first experiences of parenthood had been typical of most new parents.

“Typical things like some long nights, not leaving the house that much, trying to make sure we were building all of the typical things that you try to around feeding and so on. That’s been my experience and the experience of all my friends,” she said.

When asked how she intended handling the pressure of ‘paving the way’ that came with being one of the first women in the world to have a baby and run a country she said, “You just do what everybody else does in the same way that mothers are transitioning back to work – you just get on with it – and I’m aware that no one needs to hear about my parenting experiences because I am not the first woman to give birth. I happen to be in a particular role that adds a layer of interest. But for me pretty much it’s about getting on with it and doing the job.”

She said Clarke and Neve would be with her whenever possible “given that Neve is young , given that I’m breastfeeding”. The trio will reside in Wellington when Parliament is sitting and in their Auckland home when it is not.

The new little family in the kitchen of their new home in Sandringham.

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Mutch’s was not the only interview Ardern had yesterday. She also spoke to NZ Herald deputy political editor Claire Trevatt and revealed the laugh out loud moment when Neve produced a poonami. The nappy was off and Ardern had been at the helm.

She said Clarke was a very “hands-on” dad who had changed more nappies than her and was very good at settling Neve.

She didn’t intend on having Neve with her in the Parliamentary debating chamber.

“I don’t have the specific need to be there for long periods of time. I won’t necessarily need to do that,” she said.

However she acknowledged that other members of Parliament needed to stay for long periods and have their babies with them.

In stark contrast there was no talk of babies and nappies with John Campbell on RNZ’s Checkpoint show. He asked her how she was going to address business confidence being at an all-time low, as well as the teachers’ and nurses’ strikes.

She talked about the need to modernise and diversify our economy and said she absolutely wanted to be at the negotiating table with the teachers and the nurses.

Come home time, she would have been exhausted. We’d say a tough first day back at the office.

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