New Zealand ex-Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern weds longtime partner

New Zealand ex-Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern weds longtime partner


Ardern is one of just two women to have a baby as national leaders

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand's former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern married her longtime partner Clarke Gayford in a private ceremony on Saturday, finally tying the knot after cancelling ceremonies during strict COVID-19 controls she imposed on the country.

Ardern, 43, and Gayford, 47, got engaged in May 2019 and were meant to be married in early 2022, but the ceremony was cancelled due to her “go hard, go early” approach to the pandemic, which allowed New Zealand to keep deaths from the virus low.

She became a global icon for left-leaning politics and women in leadership as prime minister from 2017 to January last year. Ardern, one of just two women to have a baby as national leaders, took her daughter to a United Nations meeting.

The wedding took place in Hawke's Bay at Craggy Range Winery on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, about 310 km (190 miles) north of the capital Wellington, an Ardern spokesperson said by email.

Official photos showed a smiling Ardern wearing a white halter neck dress, while Gayford wore a black suit. They tied the knot in front of some 50 to 75 guests, news site Stuff reported.

Among the guests was Ardern's successor as prime minister Chris Hipkins, the current opposition leader, the New Zealand Herald said.

Hawke’s Bay is home to a number of internationally known wineries and is an important horticultural area.

Ardern for the past six month has been undertaking three fellowships at Harvard University.

She is a trustee of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize and a special envoy for the Christchurch Call - a network seeking to "eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online". It was set up after a massacre targeting Muslims, for which Ardern's sympathetic response won applause.

In her final speech in parliament, Ardern told Gayford, a New Zealand television presenter, "Let’s finally get married.” The couple's daughter Neve, is five years old.