Ardern enlists fiance for campaign rev-up

Jacinda Ardern's partner Clarke Gayford was the warm-up act at NZ Labour's election campaign launch.
Jacinda Ardern's partner Clarke Gayford was the warm-up act at NZ Labour's election campaign launch.

One speaker stood out among the pageantry of New Zealand Labour's campaign launch, perhaps even more so than the prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern's fiance Clarke Gayford was a surprise warm-up act on Saturday, delighting the Labour faithful with a few tidbits and jokes before her address at Auckland Town Hall.

"I won't keep you long ... who wants to hear from the plus one, right," he began.

Mr Gayford, a fishing TV show host and a popular figure in New Zealand in his own right, said he had seen a dramatic change to Ms Ardern's drive since becoming PM in 2017.

"It's drive that sees me getting a bit growly at midnight when cabinet papers are still being read in bed," he said.

"I tell you, it's worse than toast crumbs.

"Drive that means her alarm clock tune will forever haunt my dreams as it goes off most mornings before 6am and occasionally before 5am.

"From what I've seen, Jacinda doesn't appear to have a ceiling."

The pair partnered in 2013 and had their first child in 2018, a year into Ms Ardern's term as prime minister.

Mr Gayford joked he would "abuse this platform for a second" to reveal his mock struggles when arguing with the PM.

"I don't know if you know what it's like to try and have a disagreement with someone who has just been voted the world's most eloquent leader," he said.

"The last time Jacinda and I were at home and we had a wee test of wills I soon found myself well and truly out of my depth.

"It was agreed that she was in fact right and it was my turn to clean the nappy bucket."

The move is without recent precedent in New Zealand politics, and appears an attempt to capitalise on Ms Ardern's personal popularity.

Ms Ardern denied Mr Gayford's appearance signalled a switch to presidential-style politics.

"It's not uncommon ... he's been involved before," she said.

"It's not the first time Clarke has introduced me, I think he just likes a chance to use some new material."

Labour is a strong favourite to win re-election on September 19.

Australian Associated Press