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New Zealand gets new prime minister as Jacinda Ardern goes into labor

21 June 2018
New Zealand gets new prime minister as Jacinda Ardern goes into labor

New Zealand's prime minister has arrived at the hospital to have her first child.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is now acting prime minister and will run the country for the next six weeks while Ms Ardern takes maternity leave according to a previously published agreement, her office said in a statement.

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford have welcomed their first baby, a girl.

Her partner, Clarke Gayford, hosts a fishing documentary series, but will give that up to be a stay-at-home dad.

Auckland District Hospital declined to comment.

Ms Ardern's due date was June 17.

It was the first time in the country's history that a prime minister was pregnant while in office.

Ms Ardern said: "I'm sure we're going through all of the emotions new parents go through, but at the same time feeling so grateful for all the kindness and best wishes from so many people".

Peters, head of the populist New Zealand First party, had already taken over some of Ardern's duties, including running cabinet meetings in the capital Wellington while she stayed close to home in Auckland.

The couple announced the pregnancy to the public on 19 January.

She's expected to briefly speak to reporters after the birth.

The 37-year-old is New Zealand's third female prime minister and is set to become only the second world leader to bear a child while in office, following in the footsteps of the late Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Prior to her, Queen Elizabeth II gave birth to Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince Edward in 1964 after her ascension to the throne in 1952.