New Zealand’s ‘first baby’ makes UN history at General Assembly

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sits with her baby Neve before speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri – RC1D451BD190

With a mock security pass, 3-month-old Neve Te Aroha made history on Monday when she attended the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the U.N. General Assembly to listen to a speech given by her mother, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In her father’s arms, Neve looked on as her mother, who is only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990, addressed the assembly.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern kisses her baby Neve before speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S.

 (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Before the address, Ardern’s partner and stay-at-home dad joked in a tweet Monday that Neve had kept them awake until 3:45 a.m., without any regard to the changing time zones.

He also shared a photo of Neve’s U.N. security pass.

“I wish I could have captured the startled look on a Japanese delegation inside U.N. yesterday who walked into a meeting room in the middle of a nappy change. Great yarn for her 21st(birthday),” he tweeted.

At 38 years old, Ardern is her country’s youngest premier and the first to ever take maternity – six weeks – while in office.

She told the New Zealand Herald after her address that it was “a practical decision” to take Neve to the General Assembly.

“Neve is actually nearby me most of the time in New Zealand, she’s just not always caught,” Ardern said. “But here, when she’s awake, we try and keep her with me. So that was the occasion.”

The couple has said Neve will accompany her mother on official business because Ardern is breastfeeding.

The United Nations was delighted to see Neve in the assembly hall, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Reuters.

“Prime Minister Ardern is showing that no one is better qualified to represent her county than a working mother,” he said. “Just 5 percent of the world’s leaders are women, so we need to make them as welcome here as possible.”

Samantha Power, a former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under former President Barack Obama, appeared to echo Dujarric’s statement saying on Twitter: “I cannot stress how much the @UN – and the governments that comprise it – need this.”

While in New York for the convergence of world leaders, Ardern is set for some high-profile interviews, including on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Her agenda includes combating climate change, promoting global trade and supporting the rights of women and children.

Ardern’s government has passed a number of measures over its first year in office. It has raised the minimum wage, increased support to low-income families and new parents, banned most foreigners from buying homes, and announced an ambitious policy to combat climate change by making the country carbon neutral by 2050.

And during Ardern’s tenure, the economy has kept growing at a steady annual rate of 2.7 percent, despite some surveys indicating a downturn in confidence among businesses and consumers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

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