Given International Women's Day (IWD) celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, it’s only fitting to feature New Zealand’s Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Jacinda Ardern.
From DJ appearances to headlining Auckland’s Gay Pride parade to her casual announcement that she plans to juggle motherhood and Prime Ministership… the so called ‘Jacindamania’ is not without credit.
At 37 years old (b: 26 July 1980) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is the world’s youngest female head of government, which fits nicely in the country that is currently commemorating the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage. In 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
It’s not on record but Jacinda Ardern is likely the first-ever Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage whose love of the arts once saw her playing to the crowds as a DJ at the annual Laneway Festival on Auckland’s waterfront.
And, her use of social channels is injecting an entirely different spin into New Zealand politics – just last week she tweeted to actor Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), who was holidaying in NZ, “if you need any tips for your trip, Kiwis are always at the ready”.
Commuting is an essential part of the job and with a home in Auckland and an office in Wellington, the Prime Minister’s working week means she’s one of Air New Zealand’s most regular passengers – you might just catch her on your flight, or check out some of her favourite haunts.
Q: Home is in one of Auckland’s inner suburbs, what are your favourite local haunts?
A: Anything within walking distance! I often pop round the corner to the Twisted Tomato or Mint Cakery. I won’t admit how often cupcakes form part of my weekend diet.
Q: When you’re home in Auckland, where do you like to shop / favourite designers?
Local secrets, Twisted Tomato and Mint Cakery are both found in the beachside Auckland suburb of Point Chevalier. Twisted Tomato specialises in ‘simple food made well’ and you can even order home-delivered organic meals. Meanwhile, Mint Cakery does delicious bite-sized treats and gorgeous full-size cakes.
Twisted Tomato: 149 Point Chevalier Road, Auckland 1022; Tel: +64 98452235; open 7 days (8am - 4pm).
Mint Cakery: 201B Point Chevalier Road, Auckland 1022; Tel: +64 98153419; open 7 days (7am – 3pm or 1pm Sun/Mon).
A: I’m a huge fan of home-grown design and designers, so that’s pretty much my starting point.
Jacinda Ardern chose Kate Sylvester for her swearing in at Parliament, and was photographed for Vogue in Harman Grubisa, by Auckland designers Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubisa, and Herriot by Wellington designer Bron Eichbaum, who is all about ‘small runs and sustainability’.
Kate Sylvester has three boutiques in Auckland (Ponsonby, Britomart and Newmarket), and two in Wellington (Cuba Street & David Jones).
Harman Grubisa’s Auckland boutique is at 20 Jervois Rd, Ponsonby.
Herriot has four shops including The Service Depot at 126 Wakefield St, Wellington.
Q: When you’re working in Wellington, what’s your go-to coffee stop, best place for lunch / dinner?
A: Proximity is king for me at the moment, which means the work caf wins most of the time! I have been known to order a takeaway curry or two from the Indus Restaurant which is just down the road from Premier House. But otherwise, anywhere that does a good cheeseboard is okay with me.
Q: If you want to get absolutely away from it all, what’s your favourite weekend escape?
Visitors to the New Zealand Parliament Buildings, in downtown Wellington, can now visit ‘the work caf’ otherwise known as Bellamys by Logan Brown which has just opened its doors to the public. Check out the menu here, you made need to book.
Just a bit further up the hill, find Indus Restaurant ($10 lunches, $22 dinner) in a heritage hotel at 230 Tinakori Road, Thorndon; open 7 days for dinners, Mon – Fri for lunches, or takeaways.
Not to your taste? Then, you could head across the road from Parliament to The Backbencher Gastropub. Notorious as the venue of the long running political TV show Backbenches, the menu offers local wines, craft beers and delicious dishes priced “to attract the quirky mix of MPs, policy wonks and discerning voters” who dine beneath the curious display of life-size puppets – including the just revealed rendition of the new Prime Minister. Open 7 days.
A: Spending time with family or heading out on the boat with Clarke is a treat – but then so is the occasional weekend at home.
Q: From your own childhood memories, are there some must-do Kiwi family experiences that you’re excited about sharing with your little one?
No visit to Auckland – the City of Sails could ever be complete without getting out on the water, and you don’t have to have your own boat to make the most of that. From the downtown ferry terminal, take a boat across the harbour and stroll the streets of genteel Devonport, climb to the top of iconic Rangitoto Island’s volcanic slopes, sip your way around Waiheke – the island of wine, or get your wildlife thrills on a Whale & Dolphin Safari.
A: Anything that involves the sea and sand. We would always head to the beach over summer, so that’s probably the simple thing I am looking forward to the most.
Jacinda Ardern grew up in country towns close to some of the North Island’s best and most popular beach holiday destinations – the Bay of Plenty and The Coromandel. You don’t have to go far to find a sandy beach, rolling waves or rich fishing waters to fit your holiday requirements.
At Hot Water Beach, on the Coromandel Peninsula, you can dig your own hot bath in the sand at low tide thanks to ancient springs beneath the beach and that makes for a convivial social event.
Mount Maunganui or Mauao (also known as The Mount) marks the entrance to Tauranga harbour, and a beachside community that has long been a favourite spot for summer camping holidays and riding the surf.