PM out campaigning 10 days ahead of due date

From Checkpoint, 5:55 pm on 7 June 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was out meeting people in Northcote today just days before she's expected to go into labour.

Ms Ardern was campaigning with Labour candidate Shanan Halbert in the lead up to this weekend's by-election.

Watch the full video report here:

Voters in the Auckland electorate go to the polls on Saturday to choose a replacement for long serving National MP Jonathan Coleman - who left parliament earlier this year.

Ms Ardern was greeted by a group of beaming children from a local pre-school as she arrived in Northcote this afternoon.

After some pictures, Ms Ardern and Labour candidate Shanan Halbert made a quick stop at the local supermarket to speak to workers.

While she didn't purchase any salt and vinegar chips, which she craved at the beginning of her pregnancy, the prime minister did surprise some shoppers.

Beth Railton was paying for her groceries as Ms Ardern and her supporters made their way past the checkouts - she said it was nice seeing her out and meeting locals.

"I was quite surprised, I thought the baby was about to pop, so it was cool that she was out and about.

"But like most young mums, we have to do the same, you still have to get out there," she said.

Ms Ardern and Mr Halbert were flanked by supporters decked out in party t-shirts and ribbons as they stopped to meet Northcote shop owners, locals and mums.

One of those locals, Janice Choy, took her baby to meet Ms Ardern.

It was fantastic seeing the prime minister out in full force so close to her due date, Ms Choy said.

"It's definitely hard being pregnant, let alone being prime minister ... she's an inspiration to all the women, working women to be honest," she said.   

The selfies and hugs are likely to continue until the last possible moment in what's expected to be a tight race.

Two targeted polls from Labour show Shanan Halbert within two points of National rival, Dan Bidois. But National says its internal polling shows a more comfortable gap of eight.

Mr Halbert said he was feeling really good about Saturday's by-election and even if the baby makes an early arrival people should still get out and vote.

"It could work either way, if baby arrives it would probably be really positive and in anticipation of baby arriving people will just get on, do the mahi, and hopefully bring home a victory for Labour and this community in Northcote," he said.

Mr Halbert has offered to be a babysitter for the prime minister and suggested a name for the unborn baby.  

"I did give her a name on Facebook live the other night - I said Shanan would be a great name, because none of us know the gender yet - it could go either way.
"Shanan if it's a girl, or if it's a boy and the spelling of my name is a great example of that," he said.  

Mr Halbert isn't the only one with suggestions - 4 year olds, Sophie and Ayla, from Tiny Tots pre-school also had some ideas.

"I was thinking Poppy or Daisy," they said.

Just 10 days out from her due date, Ms Ardern said she was feeling good.

"Obviously I'm still trucking along and you'll see me probably for a few days yet," she said.

Ms Ardern plans to work until she goes into labour.

She'll hand over power to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters when she arrives at hospital.