AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 24: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford pose for a photo with their new baby girl Neve Te Aroha Ardern-Gayford on June 24, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. Prime Minister Ardern is the second world leader to give birth in office, and the first elected leader to take maternity leave. Arden will take six weeks of leave with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters assuming the role of Acting Prime Minister. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Summer reissue: Relive Spinoff rolling coverage of Jacinda Ardern having a baby

The prime minister delivered many speeches, but only one baby, in 2018. There was only one way to cover the leadup, and that was our liveblog, which became a minor global sensation. To enjoy it properly, please scroll to the end and read from bottom up.

This liveblog was first published in June 2018

Updates by Hayden Donnell, Toby Manhire and Madeleine Chapman

Sunday, June 24

8.30pm: Earlier today the prime minister and her partner appeared at Auckland Hospital to acknowledge Clarke Gayford’s cardigan.

“There’s nothing wrong with that dad cardie,” said Jacinda Ardern, in a Facebook video.

It was “a real find”, said the prime minister of the cardigan, which had been purchased, according to Gayford, from a Gisborne opportunity shop.

Ardern said she believed it had come from the Salvation Army Opportunity Shop. According to one reviewer on, the Gisborne store, at 212 Gladstone Road, was “unfortunately not welcoming and forcing a person to take receipt because staff refused to have it seems very over the top!” Another user, Ferret Nutter, said: “Good place friendly staff reasonable prices”.

“Clarke Gayford gears up for stay-at-home dad role with the perfect cardigan,” was the headline on New Zealand’s biggest news site, Stuff.

“What a dag: Clarke Gayford’s op shop ‘dad’ cardigan”, was the headline on New Zealand’s second biggest news site, the NZ Herald.

The cardigan made media waves across the globe. In its article about  the cardigan, the world’s most popular English-language newspaper site, the Daily Mail, called it “a plunging grey button-up jumper bought from an op-shop”. The Mail quoted one social media user saying, “Nice cardi Clarke, you’re rocking that dad look mate.”

Ardern and Gayford also said that their daughter is called Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.

The last known public appearance of the cardigan was in Martinborough, shortly after the announcement of the pregnancy, when Gayford told TVNZ Breakfast’s Jack Tame that it was “a practice dad cardie”.

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford with Neve Te Aroha Ardern-Gayford. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Thursday, June 21

6.15pm: A baby!

Jacinda Ardern has just announced it on Instagram, saying: “Welcome to our village wee one.  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.”

And from Clarke Gayford on Twitter:

Several hurrays and congratulations.

6.05pm: Bus? Or baby?

6.00pm: This just to hand from a hospital insider whose identity we have agreed to protect:

4.45pm: What a day.

4.27pm: How do you give birth, anyway? Our parents editor Emily Writes has compiled the definitive guide here.

4.15pm: Here’s Kate Hawkesby on Instagram observing that the world has gone mad.

3.42pm: Reader, it has come to this. This liveblog is reporting on the Guardian reporting on this liveblog reporting on dumb comments from the Daily Mail.

3.35pm: No baby, but our reporter has turned up.

3.25pm: Sometimes it’s instructive to view domestic news events through an outsider’s lens. Here it is put in context at the leading Australian site Mamamia:

3.02pm: Has anybody seen Spinoff acting deputy political editor Madeleine Chapman?

2.55pm: Disappointing news from Auckland Hospital. Further to our 2.14pm post, Tova did not take the pie.

2.40pm: No sign of a baby, no sign of our acting deputy political editor, and no new comments on the Daily Mail story.

There are, however, these trails at the foot of the Mail story, which work especially well if you read the category news as being the last word of the headlines.

2.30pm: The true spirit of celebrity childbirth is to be found in the opportunistic clamberings by third parties to make some cash. For example, this kooky press release just in from an Australian bookmaker:

2.14pm: The Spinoff’s acting deputy political editor has gone missing, probably she is abseiling into surgery theatres for the lols. In the meantime, some quality content from the political editor at so-called rival Newshub:

Take it, Tova.

2.00pm: Time for more from the Mail comments section. Here’s The Beast, from the University of Gravity in the United States.

1.50pm: It’s 1.50pm, and that’s time for a selection of media coverage from Around The Globe.

From rival rolling coverage at

From rival rolling coverage at

And the mood evocatively captured by leading international news agency Reuters:

1.25pm: This just in from our reporter: “No baby. No mention of baby. Food has been brought in for media, embarrassing those who jumped the gun and paid for their own lunch.”

1.13pm: Latest from Auckland Hospital.

12.59pm: Righteous indignation on Twitter about media vultures at the hospital. To clarify: the media are at the hospital, as pre-arranged by the prime minister’s office, sitting in a room. With the possible exception of Spinoff acting deputy political editor Mad Chapman photographing a table (see below), there has been no incident.

The latest from Chapman: “There is a Subway inside Auckland hospital and some reporters have chosen to have it for lunch”.

12.40pm: Mike Hosking at 7.48am today on Newstalk ZB:

“I am increasingly embarrassed to be a part of the media in this country, the media has lost the plot in the last couple of years, in general terms. And I put it down to the fact that the media is so busy these days trying to produce content they’ve lost the terminology of what content is, and they’ve certainly lost the plot around the prime minister. The prime minister having a baby is of note, there’s no question … but it’s not actually news. The news aspect was a prime minister is having a baby and that got dealt with ages ago.”

Also Mike Hosking at 8.25am today on Newstalk ZB:

“There’s mixed reaction at Auckland Hospital … One man doesn’t have a great sense of excitement about it. He said he just came to buy coffee because it’s good at the hospital. A doctor who works there says … apparently it’s really good, really good coffee … she’s says she’s excited, this is the doctor, ‘hope she gets out of hospital soon’, see, because the doctor’s been in the hospital, really [indecipherable]  … By the way, our participation in the frivolity, the joy that’s sweeping the land, of this near royal baby that we’re having this morning, you called it, it’s your fault, [producer] Glenn, you said it’s Cancer, if it’s born today it’s Cancer, but of course there’s a great deal of debate about that. says Cancer, if you’re born today, June 21, you’re Cancer. But, you go to, which is my go-to, personally, and they say no. No, no, no, it is a Gemini. And then you can go to and they say it’s Gemini, and so you’re left with, really, only one place to go, which is, of course, which means, they’re indecisive, they say you’re on the cusp, you’re on the Gemini-Cancer cusp. So after all that resaearch and that’s extensive, you can hear how extensive that research is, wouldn’t have a clue.”

11.49am: Pressure is mounting on our acting deputy political editor. Not only has she been upbraided by security for filming a table with coffee on it in a room several floors away from Jacinda Ardern, she has also now been upbraided by the next leader of the National Party, Judith Collins. #JustABitofDecency

11.38am: The very latest from Madeleine Chapman, acting deputy political editor, who is our reporter onsite at Auckland hospital:  “Tova O’Brien has left again, presumably to film a live cross from in front of the hospital at midday. Otherwise everyone is silent and no one has snacks.”

Also: “I’ve been told off by security for filming the coffee table.”

And this helpful follow-up: “(table with coffee on it)”.

11.30am: The world’s most popular online English-language newspaper, the Daily Mail, has reported the NZ prime minister’s arrival at hospital, and the well-wishers such as Bob and Bev and Rabbit have swarmed to the comment section.

10.35am: Direct from the labour hq, Madeleine Chapman reports that Clarke Gayford drove the couple to the hospital and they arrived at 5.50am.

10.24am: The prime minister is reportedly giving birth on the ninth floor of Auckland hospital, which will make for some wordplay fun when she does her chapter for the next edition of Guyon Espiner’s noir podcast.

10.18am: “The purpose of art,” said Pablo Picasso, “is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls.” And that’s exactly what SkyKiwi, the most visited Chinese website in New Zealand, has achieved with this tweeted work:

10.14am: This just in from our acting deputy political editor Madeleine Chapman, coming from the media scrum at Auckland hospital in Grafton: “Big hitters just starting to arrive and set up their stations. Hospital cafe cheese scone is a middling six out of ten.”

9.22am: Go for it.

8.36am: The baby’s star sign will be Cancer, meaning it will be deeply emotional, according to Zodiac Fire.

8.34am: No baby.

7.42am: Jacinda Ardern (nee Prime Minister) is still in labour.

7.00am: Jacinda Ardern is at Auckland Hospital and Winston Peters is officially acting PM. 

The press release from the PM’s office arrived just after 6am and reads:

The Prime Minister’s Office can confirm that Jacinda Ardern has arrived at Auckland hospital, with her partner Clarke Gayford, to have her baby.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is now Acting Prime Minister.

There will be no further formal announcements from the Prime Minister’s office till Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford announce the birth of their baby.

Wednesday, June 20

11.38pm: Why?

11.34pm: No baby.

11.15pm: Pumpkin Patch is offering 30% off new season apparel.

10.28pm: A baby can’t love you any more than a cat can love you. It can barely handle its own gasses, let alone feel complex emotions. The love you feel from your baby – or your cat – is your own love reflected back; a butterfly seen in a meaningless pencil sketch. What does it say about you that you can only feel your own love in this illusory, second-hand way?

9.22pm: Unfortunately there is no baby. However here is a picture of a baby.

8.30pm: We are sorry to report there is no baby. However this is a picture of a tweet about the baby.

Where is the baby hiding? Please.

2.22pm: The Spinoff has been asked to clarify that the information below was a statistical projection based on the most popular New Zealand baby names of 2017. It was not given to us by the Prime Minister.

2.17pm: We have some breaking news: the baby will be a boy called Oliver.

11.20am: No baby.

11.00am: More large baby news from the NZ Herald.

Zara and Mike Tindall’s second child weighed in at a whopping 4.2kg, according to the report. That’s roughly the weight of four and one-fifth 1kg blocks of cheese or 14 Burger King Whopper Burgers.

10.00am: These photographs, taken at 8.55am today, reveal the prime minister’s Mt Albert electorate office closed and empty.

What is being a parent but an act of self-emptying?

8.21am: There is still no new baby, so it’s time to remember another famous New Zealand baby.

For comparison, the Eiffel Tower weighs 7.3 million tonnes – the equivalent of 7.3 billion 1kg blocks of cheese or 1,065,693 whopping babies.

A 1kg weight weighs the equivalent of one 1kg block of cheese.

4am: 4am is the most common time for babies to be born. However, there is currently no baby.

Tuesday, June 19

4.01pm: No baby.

3.44pm: No baby.

3.19pm: What is a baby? A baby is the perfect confluence of love and pain. It is the universe distilled.

2.13pm: No baby.

12.44pm: Unfortunately after an investigation, The Spinoff now believes the people pictured below are not the Prime Minister’s parents. They are two other middle-aged New Zealanders.

12.09pm: A reader has written in with some big baby news. The Prime Minister’s parents have been spotted in the audience at Dancing With The Stars. 

8.01am: The mid-year sale at Pumpkin Patch is only while stocks last.

7.01am: No.

4.01am: Are babies left or right-wing? In some ways they’re the worst caricature of a left-winger, always feeding from their mother (the State); never satisfied, always crying out for more. But babies lack the basic empathy and care for other beings often associated with left-wing ideology. So maybe they’re more like right-wingers, always looking out for number one, chewing up resources with no regard for anyone else. The only problem is that babies are famously ambivalent about the economy. Babies then, are agents of chaos. Rogue balls of untamed ego. Our job is not to love the baby – it is to tame the baby.

4am: 4am is the most common time for babies to be born. However, there is currently no baby.

Monday, June 18

10.41pm: Still no baby.

9.32pm: The Prime Minister has visited Barbara and Therese, but has not given birth to a baby.

7.20pm: Could there be a baby? No.

4.33pm: There is a sale on at Pumpkin Patch.

3pm: Unfortunately there is no baby. However this is what a baby looks like.

2.31pm: No baby.

1.25pm: What is the point of babies? At first glance, a baby looks like a collection of your misfiring genes squished into a tiny gelatinous body. But don’t be fooled – a baby is a blank slate: a living, breathing opportunity to exorcise your worst regrets. What if you always wanted to be good at basketball but never had what it takes? All you have to do is take the ambition you waste yelling pathetically at your fellow YMCA losers, and transfer it to your baby. You may never be LeBron James, or even Mark Dickel, but your baby could be Mark Dickel. It’s something you haven’t felt for a long time. An emotion called hope. And that’s the point of a baby.

12.36pm: There is still no baby.

4am: 4am is the most common time for babies to be born. However, there is currently no baby.

Sunday, June 17

3pm: There is no baby.

Further updates as they come to hand


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