Pregnancy & Birth

The powerful meaning behind Jacinda Ardern’s daughter’s name

“We’re not placing any great expectations on this little baby except for happiness and love.”

By Kate Wagner

Jacinda Ardern sent feminist shockwaves around the world when she announced her pregnancy while in office six months ago, and now, the new bub's name proves how fiercely patriotic the prime minister is.

Named Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, Jacinda explained the reasoning to journalists outside Auckland hospital.

"When we met her we thought she looked like she suited the name," the 37-year-old prime minister said, in her typically un-politician-like manner.

"Also it means—in various forms—bright and radiant and snow, which seemed like a good combination for Matariki [Maori New Year] and for solstice."

To avoid confusion, the parents chose to opt for a phonetic spelling of Neve rather than its traditional "Niamh", which means "radiant" or "bright".

"We've gone for simplicity, because Clarke with an 'e' has caused all sorts of problems, and Jacinda with a 'd'," she joked.

The couple also honoured the beauty of Aotearoa and her Māori constituents.

Aroha in Māori means "the love" and Te Aroha is also the name of a mountain close to where Jacinda's family hails from.

"Te Aroha was our way of reflecting the amount of love this baby has been shown before she arrived and all of the names we were gifted along the way (by various iwi - or tribes)," Jacinda explained.

As the bub's name almost literally suggests, the PM said: "We're not placing any great expectations on this little baby except for happiness and love."

As if a female prime minister having a baby while in office wasn't groundbreaking enough, the new bub shares her birthday with the only woman to have done it before.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was the first—and before today, only—leader to have a baby while in office back in 1990. That baby Bakhtawar, now a 28-year-old education activist, tweeted her congratulations to the only other woman to share the honour with her late mum.

The prime minister was also quick to downplay any suggestions she was a role model for giving birth while in office.

"I do not want to create a false impression that all women should be super-human or super-women," she said recently.

"I am able to do what I'm doing because I have enormous support around me and it makes me quite privileged."