Watch: Jacinda Ardern talks about her time off with baby Neve, Winston Peters at the helm and what will happen next

Source: 1News

Jacinda Ardern today revealed how she found her six weeks on maternity leave with baby Neve, her thoughts on how Winston Peters performed at the helm, and if she was paving the way for women around the world after giving birth as Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister spoke to media for the first time as she returned to New Zealand's top role since giving birth to baby Neve, describing her six weeks off as a "gift", to 1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch. 

Maternity leave

Ms Ardern described her maternity leave as a "gift". 

"I've been gifted by the New Zealand public, by my team and with the help of Acting Prime Minister, this time to be with Neve which has been wonderful," Ms Ardern said today. 

When asked if she thought it would be harder to get back into work after having a child, Ms Ardern said "no". 

Pictures: Family photos of Jacinda Ardern, Clarke Gayford and Neve show proud parents on PM's first day back

"I'm ready and very keen to get back to work. I always expected, given [Neve] is still so young and so small, that there would be a real tension there between making sure I was meeting all of her needs and of course my responsibilities.

"But I am confident with all of the support I'm very lucky to have, that we will absolutely make it work."

"Someone said to me, 'the nights are long, the years are short'. Time passes very, very quickly particularly at this age, but it’s been wonderful."

International interest and paving the way

Mutch asked if Ms Ardern felt like she was "paving the way" for women around the world, after the high level of international interest in giving birth while holding the country's leadership position.  

"Day-to-day I'm worrying about feeding, sleeping and nappies, and there's this overlay of interest in what is something that is mundane, something that every parent has gone through," she said.

"Yet I absolutely accept this layer of interest because it's not our normal yet. But one day it will be.

"I'm just perhaps amongst some of the first who are doing something that hasn’t been done very often, but one-day it will be normal."

Ms Ardern said she was "very lucky" to have Neve with her some of the time and to have partner Clarke Gayford able to care for Neve. 

"There are lots of people who transition back into roles that don’t have that. So that's what makes this abnormal as well."

Neve in the public eye

Jacinda Ardern told Mutch she and Clarke Gayford would try and balance Neve's privacy with the reality of Ms Ardern's public position. 

"Clarke and I are trying to balance the fact that we want to protect her privacy but at the same time we want to be a family, and I do a very public job," she said. 

"If we want to be together she will be in the public eye, but we are going to try very hard... to make sure we retain her privacy as much as we can."

Jacinda Ardern's thoughts on Winston Peters' as Acting Prime Minister

It had been a tumultuous six weeks away, with thousands of nurses, midwives and health care assistants striking, and the announcement of plans of an upcoming teachers' strike, so how did Jacinda Ardern think Winston Peters did as he led the country?

"He has done the job I absolutely expected that he would and he’s done a great job," Ms Ardern.  

"I work with the Deputy Prime Minister every single day. That gives me a great insight into the politician that he is. I think these last six weeks; people have seen the Winston Peters that I work with."

What next for the Prime Minister?

Ms Ardern will leave for New York next month, along with Neve and Clarke to discuss climate change, children and women's issues.

"That is probably a thought that fills some parents with dread," Ms Mutch said. "How are you going to handle that?"

"Hopefully for the people on the same flight as us, as carefully as possible," Ms Ardern said. "It’s something that is important for New Zealand to be represented at, so I will be there, doing all of the commitments that a leader usually would, but with my family with me."

Ms Ardern said next week would be about highlighting things that are important "things like employment, like mental health, like the environment and issues around the economy". 

"We need to modernise our economy. My intention is to really be at the fore of leading that change so we can instil that confidence, and that businesses see we address the challenges we have as a country."

Jacinda Ardern's Full Interview: