By: Roger Maynard. Sat, January 13, 2024 at 10:47 p.m. GMT+13
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern married her long-time partner on Saturday, two years after their original date.
Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford, a television presenter, said their vows at the Craggy Range Winery in Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
The private ceremony went ahead under tight security, and attracted a small number of anti-vaccination protesters, who gathered outside the winery with loudspeakers and signs, taking aim at Ms Ardern’s vaccine policies.
One carried a placard reading: “Lest we forget, jab mandates,” the New Zealand Herald reported.
The wedding ceremony, a rare return to the public spotlight for Dame Jacinda, 43, was officiated by Grant Robertson, her former Deputy Prime Minister and a friend of the couple.
Neve, the couple’s five-year-old daughter, walked down the aisle accompanied by her father, wearing a dress made from the wedding gown worn by Laurell Ardern, the bride’s mother.
The wedding was held under trees in the centre of the vineyard, providing shade on a hot and sunny afternoon. Some guests reportedly held umbrellas to protect the bride from the sun.
Guests cheered newlyweds after ceremony.
Official photographs show her smiling broadly in a white halter-neck gown with a sheer white full-length veil made by Juliette Hogan, a New Zealand fashion designer, who also attended the wedding.
The 47-year-old groom, who is otherwise best known for presenting a fishing programme on New Zealand television, wore a black suit.
Guests cheered the newlyweds as they walked from the ceremony to the reception. The event was attended by around 50 to 75 guests, news site Stuff reported.
Among those in attendance were Chris Hipkins and his partner Toni Grace. Mr Hipkins succeeded Ms Ardern as prime minister, but was defeated in last October’s general election by National Party leader Christopher Luxon.
Peter Gordon, the celebrity chef, and Dame Annette King, the New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia. were also in attendance.
Ms Ardern and Mr Gayford became engaged in 2019, but their wedding was delayed after Ms Ardern imposed new Covid-19 restrictions days before it was due to take place in January 2022.
At the time, she said: “My wedding won’t be going ahead but I just join many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic.”
Ms Ardern’s popularity soared after she became the youngest leader of the New Zealand Labour Party at the age of 37.
She was praised for her reaction to the Christchurch massacre in 2019, which claimed 51 lives, and the White Island volcanic eruption, which killed 22 people later in the same year.
Jacinda Ardern earned the respect of the global community for her response to New Zealand’s worst-ever terror attack, with praise for her compassionate-but-tough style of leadership.
But her popularity at home waned amid growing dissatisfaction with her draconian Covid restrictions and rising crime.
Policies such as barring overseas New Zealanders from returning home, enforcing harsh lockdowns, and mandating vaccinations all contributed to her declining popularity before her resignation.
Proposal in final speech.
Ardern resigned last January, saying she had “no more left in the tank”.
In her final speech in parliament, she told Mr Gayford: “Let’s finally get married.”
Since standing down as prime minister, Ms Ardern has written a book about leadership.
She also became a trustee of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, which supports projects aimed at saving the environment.
At the time, the Prince of Wales said the former New Zealand prime minister’s political experience and “life-long commitment” to climate action will bring a “rich infusion” to the prize.