'They are role modelling gender equality' - Helen Clark thrilled with Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford's new baby

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has hailed the birth of Jacinda Ardern's daughter as "another sign of New Zealand's accepting of full gender equality".

Ms Clark had sent her best wishes through to Ms Ardern from Canada after the birth yesterday afternoon.

"It (the pregnancy) came as a bit of a surprise, and she took it in their stride, so have Kiwis, you know yesterday was a really happy day for all of us," she said.

Ms Clark said beyond the joy of the new arrival, there was a bigger context with Ms Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford as gender equality role models.

"Of course we congratulate the happy couple but then we look at the bigger context and I think it's another sign of New Zealand's accepting of full gender equality," she said.

"Here's Jacinda, she's in the fast lane for the big job as PM, her partner, who has had obviously a very good media career, says I will be a stay-at-home dad."

"They really are role modelling gender equality, how you deal with it in the 21st century."

Ms Clark said the historical significance of a sitting female prime minister giving birth was partly to explain why there was huge global interest in the story yesterday.

"That's why I think there is such tremendous interest in what’s happening," she said.

"It goes far behind New Zealand, there's interest around the world."

"This story ranked pretty highly yesterday because it's a human interest story, and it's a lovely story, there's so much bad news out there and this one comes across as a warm story."

When it comes to assisting the new couple, next time she is in New Zealand, Ms Clark was happy to offer her famous casserole to the new parents but joked they might have a better offer.

"I'm happy to offer but they might have better offers then the industrial kitchen I set up for my dad," a chuckling Ms Clark said. 

The former PM spoke on TVNZ1’s Breakfast about the birth of Jacinda Ardern’s baby girl. Source: Breakfast