Jacinda Ardern wedding: Former prime minister due to marry Clarke Gayford this month

11:26 am on 4 January 2024

By Cherie Howie of NZ Herald

Clarke Gayford and Jacinda Ardern in Gisborne - Labour Party campaigning

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford in Gisborne on the political campaign trail back in 2020. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Former Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern and fiancé Clarke Gayford have been engaged since 2019, but called off their wedding ceremony amid the Covid-19 Omicron outbreak in January 2022. Will they get their happy day this summer?

There's been coalition talks with Winston Peters, a Premiership, a baby, a pandemic, a landslide victory and a shock resignation - so a little old wedding to her long time love should be a stroll up the aisle for Dame Jacinda Ardern.

The Herald understands the former prime minister, 43, and her TV presenter beau Clarke Gayford, 47, will wed this month.

Gayford laughed when the Herald asked about the nuptials this week.

"I can't believe you thought you could call up and I'd just tell you all."

The Gisborne native said he had "nothing to add", while Ardern couldn't be contacted.

Others with knowledge of the ceremony are also remaining tight-lipped about the wedding's details.

But the Herald has been told the event will take place at a vineyard in Hawke's Bay - more than 200km away from their originally planned ceremony which was scuttled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

No bookings are available to the public on the day of the wedding in mid-January.

The invite list is set to feature many of Ardern's former colleagues in the now-opposition Labour Party; including party leader Chris Hipkins.

The couple began dating in 2014 after Gayford, a marine enthusiast and host of Fish of the Day and Moving Houses, contacted the then-Labour list MP about proposed legislation in 2013.

Gayford popped the question five years later with his grandmother's ring on Mokotahi Hill in northern Hawke's Bay, as Diplomatic Protection Service officers kept watch nearby and a local dog tried to eat the chocolate he'd packed for the occasion.

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford leave hospital with Neve in June 2018. Photo:

The cliff-top proposal came 10 months after the birth of the couple's daughter Neve and 18 months after Ardern became the country's second youngest Prime Minister when the then-Labour Party leader formed a coalition with Peters'-helmed NZ First.

They'd made no plans "at all" for the wedding, Ardern told media after news of the engagement broke almost two weeks after the Easter proposal, when a ring was spotted on her left middle finger during a ceremony at Pike River.

"I have absolutely no idea", she said, when asked when the wedding would be.

Her words would prove prescient.

Less than a year later the Covid-19 pandemic kicked off a round of restrictions that included lockdowns, border closures to those without citizenship or residency, and an at-times oversubscribed managed quarantine system for Kiwis coming home.

The couple's wedding would eventually be booked for the 2022 summer, with the venue understood to be the farm homestead at Nick's Head Station, 25km south of Gisborne.

The luxury rural estate, at which Grammy Award-winner Lorde was also understood to be on hand to entertain the couple's loved ones and friends, is owned by US hedge fund billionaire John Griffin and his wife Amy.

But the arrival of the Omicron variant in late January 2022 and subsequent move to the red traffic light system - which restricted gatherings to fewer than 100 - spoiled the pair's plans.

"Such is life", Ardern said of their decision to call off the wedding.

"I am no different to, dare I say, thousands of other New Zealanders."

The three-time Mt Albert MP had previously described herself as "the least-engaged bride", with Gayford in charge of organising the nuptials, but vowed there were no plans to delay their vows indefinitely.

When she resigned as prime minister almost a year ago, citing exhaustion, the bride-to-be included a special message to Gayford alongside promises to try and find ways to "keep working for New Zealand" and take Neve to her first day of school.

"And to Clarke, let's finally get married."

- This story was first published by the NZ Herald

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs