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Birth brought cheer to nation

Opinion Piece

No question what dominated the news cycle of the past week — the birth of a girl to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford drew headlines not only in New Zealand but around the world.

The 3.31kg (7.3 pounds) girl born on Thursday afternoon has drawn endless columns and comments both in mainstream and on social media.

That culminated in a song, Hold Her Close, written for the new baby by leading New Zealand songwriter Neil Finn and his son Liam.

The interest carried on into last night with the release of the child’s name, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.

Neve is reportedly popular with Celts but has not been a common name in New Zealand (although that’s about to change no doubt). It is an abbreviation of Niamh, according to Mr Google, and means snow in Italian and Portugese. Te Aroha, or love, is a recognition of Maori and Ardern’s home town.

While cynics will have found some of the response to the birth gushing and excessive, they would be in a small minority. The birth has brought cheer to the country in the middle of a cold and depressing winter.

This is only the second time a country’s leader has given birth while in office and of course it is New Zealand’s first.

Future social historians will likely see this as a landmark event for its significance to women in general. By opting to combine running the country with caring for the newborn with the help of her partner, Ardern has laid down a marker of where New Zealand is in the 21st century.

The possibility of a Prime Minister giving birth in this country would have probably been unthinkable just a decade ago.

And while nobody is suggesting that it was intended, the birth will make the Prime Minister even more popular and almost an odds-on favourite to retain her office in 2020 unless something changes dramatically.

Something did change dramatically in the United States where President Donald Trump made an executive order reversing the policy of separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents. This was more good news for young people not as fortunate as Neve.