Politics

Ardern preparing for summer wedding


A change in New Zealand’s COVID-19 regulations should allow Jacinda Ardern the chance to walk down the aisle this summer.

However, there may be precious little evidence available to Ms Ardern’s many international fans, with the prime minister eschewing media interest or photographic rights to the event.

Ms Ardern is due to marry Clarke Gayford in just a few weeks, nine years after meeting the television host, keen fisherman DJ at an Auckland awards ceremony.

Since then, she won two elections and, in between, gave birth to the pair’s first child, Neve, now three.

The Labour leader told Australian Associated Press she gave over responsibilities for their big day to New Zealand’s first bloke.

“Clarke is in charge. And I’m very grateful for that,” she laughed.

After another arduous year overseeing the country’s COVID-19 response and leading the government, Ms Ardern is keeping her big day private.

“We’ve had advice the bride and groom are going with something intimate and personal,” Woman’s Day editor Sebastian van der Zwan told AAP.

“And after the past couple of years, where the PM has been fronting to media almost every single day, I can’t really blame her.”

Border closures mean Ms Ardern won’t be able to invite any of her celebrity friends – among them Stephen Colbert, Prince William and Emmanuel Macron – even if she had wanted to.

Still, Mr van der Zwan expects plenty of interest, both at home and abroad.

“All Black weddings, like Richie and Gemma McCaw or Dan and Honor Carter, have always been huge for Woman’s Day, with people queuing outside supermarkets and dairies to buy their copies,” he said.

“A leader who’s been so popular locally and even captured the imagination of a global audience, it’s going to be huge.

“And that’s not to mention the fact the groom is a current TV host and former radio presenter. Add in Neve as a flower girl and it’s a wedding made in Woman’s Day heaven.”

While Ms Ardern usually bats away pesky questions from TV and radio hosts on the wedding, she has shared tidbits.

In May, she revealed they had picked a venue – Gisborne – and, without sharing it, a date believed to be early January.

Gisborne is in the beachy Tairawhiti region on the North Island’s East coast, close to where Mr Gayford proposed, at Mahia in 2019, and where the pair usually spend summer holidays.

Ms Ardern has played down suggestions of a hen’s night or even a few nights of honeymooning.

Wedding planning has not been without controversy.

One of her personal staffers is helping with the wedding, but Ms Ardern’s office insists the woman is a long-term friend of the couple “helping in her personal capacity”.

In October, the NZ Herald reported Ms Ardern was in a stoush with the owner of Gisborne’s Bushmere Arms hotel, walking away from holding the wedding there due to a catering dispute.

The Herald reported plans for 150 guests to feast on locally foraged produce including crayfish and wild venison under the supervision of celebrity chef Peter Gordon.

And as with any event during COVID-19, there is still the chance it may be called off or capped.

Tairawhiti is home to some of New Zealand’s lowest vaccination rates, and as such, an outbreak could force a localised lockdown.

Gathering sizes are currently capped at 100 people – though restrictions in the region are due to ease on December 30 to allow for uncapped gatherings of vaccinated people.

“We’re taking each day as it comes,” Ms Ardern said of the uncertainty.

“For me and I think for both of us, we have very basic goals. Just people you love. And being able to be together and that’s about it.”



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