Jacinda Ardern reveals her engagement involved security staff, some locals and a dog

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Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford confirmed their engagement last week — but there’s no date yet

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed she was surprised when her long-time partner proposed to her over the Easter holidays and has no idea when the wedding will be.

Key points: 

  • Jacinda Ardern has revealed she and Clarke Gayford were engaged on Mokotahi hill on the Mahia peninsula in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
  • The Prime Minister became the second elected leader to give birth in office last year 
  • If she marries while in office, she will become the first major leader to do so in recent years

Ms Ardern was addressing her first weekly media briefing after news of her engagement to fishing-show host Clarke Gayford became public last week.

“I was surprised by the question,” Ms Ardern said about the proposal, adding the couple were yet to make formal wedding plans.

“As with probably many other couples, that means we haven’t made many plans, if any plans, at all.

“So you may have many questions. I’m unlikely to be able to answer just about every single one of them,” she told journalists at the briefing in Wellington on Monday. 

Jacinda Ardern carrying her newborn baby with partner Clarke Gayford.

While Ms Ardern said she wanted to keep some elements of the proposal private, she did reveal who was there when it happened — and hinted Mr Gayford did not bend the knee.

“I can tell you that [security staff] were up there and they had no idea, I don’t think, what had happened, so that should be a bit of a giveaway to you,” she said.

She said the proposal happened when the couple were at a “beautiful little lookout” on Mokotahi hill on the Mahia peninsula in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

The couple were joined by her diplomatic protection security, some locals — and a dog who stole her chocolates, she said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks at the Pike River Mine near Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand.

“So, it was very romantic,” she joked.

The forthcoming nuptials are a rarity for world leaders in office and follow Ms Ardern’s pregnancy last year, which was seen around the globe as a symbol of progress for female leaders.

Ms Ardern was only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto in 1990 and, if she marries while in office, will be the first major leader to do so in recent years.

Her fiance is a 41-year-old host of a television fishing show who helps take care of their 10-month-old daughter Neve Te Aroha, while Ms Ardern, 38, runs the country.

News of their engagement broke after journalists noticed Ms Ardern wearing a ring on her middle finger at a public event on Friday last week.

Ms Ardern has since revealed the ring used to belong to Mr Gayford’s grandmother.

“I have not being trying to hide our news from anyone, but it simply does not fit on the right finger so that’s why it’s sitting in the middle,” she added.

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