New Zealand’s prime minister has held her first cabinet meeting since returning from maternity leave.
Jacinda Ardern, who is only the second world leader to give birth while in office, has been off duty for six weeks following the birth of her daughter Neve on 21 June.
She retook the reins while still in Auckland last Thursday when Winston Peters, who has been acting prime minister, left the country to go to Singapore in his role as foreign secretary.
Over the weekend, she and her family moved back to Wellington and settled back into Premier House.
Ministers applauded as Ardern entered the cabinet meeting room and took her place beside Peters, who she thanked for running the country in her absence and allowing her to become its first premier to take maternity leave when in office.
“The last six weeks have been wonderful not only because of the birth of our healthy daughter but because we have been gifted by this cabinet, by the people of New Zealand, this time together,” she said.
“It’s really, really nice to be back amongst you all,” she said, adding: “Shall we get on with it?”
Ardern’s daughter did not accompany her to the meeting, but steps have been taken to to make parliament more baby-friendly so she will be allowed to cuddle with her mother during debates and swim in the legislators’ pool.
The prime minister was greeted by a high school choir at the airport when she flew to the capital on Saturday, where she spoke to reporters with the baby asleep in her arms.
Ardern, who is breastfeeding, was accompanied by partner Clarke Gayford, who is caring for Neve full-time.
Their plans for the weekend included setting up second-hand baby furniture at Premier House, her official residence, she told media.