Jacinda Ardern marries in exclusive ceremony at $25,000-a-night winery

Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford walk through the vines at the exclusive winery where they married in Hawke's Bay
Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford walk through the vines at the winery where they married in Hawke's Bay - FELICITY JEAN PHOTOGRAPHY/SHUTTERSTOCK

Jacinda Ardern married her long-time partner at a $25,000-a-night winery on Saturday in a ceremony delayed by her own Covid measures.

The former New Zealand prime minister and Clarke Gayford, a television presenter, said their vows at the Craggy Range Winery in Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of the country’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.

Jacinda Ardern and her new husband Clarke Gayford
Jacinda Ardern looked overjoyed at becoming a bride two years after the original date - FELICITY JEAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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,

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

She 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.

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