Their smiles could not have been wider as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford proudly introduced their new baby girl, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, to ‘the village’ today.
The jubilant parents, who admitted feeling a little sleep-deprived, posed happily for photos and fielded questions as they showed Neve off to waiting media at Auckland Hospital at 11am. They plan to take their little girl home to their Sandringham home today.
Ardern told reporters the name means “bright” or “radiant” or “snow” and that Neve’s full name had “the same number of letters” as her own long name.
In the spelling – Neve – Ardern explained, “We’ve gone for simplicity, because Clarke with an ‘e’ has caused all sorts of problems, and Jacinda with a ‘d’!”
They had a shortlist of names which ‘Neve’ was on “and when we met her we thought she looked like she suited the name”. Te Aroha was one “we settled on quite early… which reflected the love and generosity” she’s received from people and also embodied the generous gifts of names they had received from different iwi.
Gayford said he would not forget the look on Ardern’s face when she finally got to hold their baby – he said “she had obviously been through so much and she looked absolutely stunned and very, very happy”.
Ardern acknowledged Gayford as being “as much a role model as I am” in his choice to be Neve’s main caregiver once Ardern returned to work. She said she hoped little boys and girls in the future could make decisions about how they raised their children based on what they wanted and what “made them happy”.
She said there would be no expectations placed on Neve, other than that she hoped for her “happiness and love”.
Ardern thanked members of the public who had sent in gifts or notes of congratulations. They would pass on gifts such as knitted booties to other families once their little girl had outgrown them. She also thanked the hospital staff.
Ardern’s mother Laurrell Ardern earlier shared with media that the baby didn’t look like the Prime Minister did as a baby at all because Neve was “more petite”.
Beaming with happiness, she shared, “I didn’t think this day would come and it has and it’s lovely.”
“She’s such a little cutie.”
Ardern had promised New Zealand an introduction after Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William introduced Prince Louis to the rest of the world from the steps of the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital, London on April 23.
But she forewarned us that she wouldn’t be looking as immaculate as Duchess Catherine did.
The Prime Minister also allowed herself and Gayford a little more time with their wee bundle first, making their appearance three days after their little girl’s birth. The Duchess of Cambridge appeared on the Lindo Wing steps just seven hours after giving birth.
Ardern gave birth to their baby at 4:45pm on Thursday 21 June after going into labour overnight. She was driven to the hospital by Gayford just before 6am on Thursday morning.
In true Jacinda Ardern style, the baby’s arrival was announced via social media in an Instagram post.
“Welcome to our village wee one,” the Prime Minister wrote. “Feeling very lucky to have a healthy baby girl that arrived at 4.45pm weighing 3.31kg (7.3lb) Thank you so much for your best wishes and your kindness. We’re all doing really well thanks to the wonderful team at Auckland City Hospital.”
On Friday we were treated to a sneak peek of the First Baby (albeit the back of her head) as Ardern acknowledged her midwife in an Instagram post.
“One of the many special people we have been so grateful for over these past few months, our wonderful midwife Libby. 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!” she shared.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has taken over as Acting Prime Minister until Ardern returns from maternity leave in six weeks’ time. However, Ardern has said she plans to remain in contact with Peters from home while she’s on leave.
Proud dad Clarke Gayford will be the baby’s main caregiver when Ardern returns to work.