Tiger Webb, a digital producer at ABC’s Radio National was in for a pleasant surprise when he called New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s office to double check how to pronounce her surname, after hearing a few different versions used by Australian and New Zealand broadcasters. His call was transferred to the Labour office, wherein Ardern picked up the call and explained it to the flabbergasted journalist that it should be pronounced “Ah-durn”.
According to the media reports of Herald, Ardern confirmed that the conversation happened and said she was “happy to help” with Webb’s query. “It was funny. I was in a meeting and my desk phone started to ring and it doesn’t ring much so I went over and I saw it was an international number and I just picked up,” she said.
“He said ‘oh hello’ and said his name and where he was from and that he just needed to know how to pronounce my surname. I told him and then I thought ‘oh the poor thing, clearly the operator’s just put him straight through’. I’m sure he probably didn’t intend to do that but it was no trouble at all.”
Webb, who manages the media outlet’s database on the pronunciation of people’s name and place name, tweeted about the exchange and received hundreds of positive replies from both Aussie and Kiwi Twitterati, including ex-Prime Minister Helen Clark, who tweeted, “That’s New Zealand”.
Sure is. Unforgettable moment for me as a baby journo in 1999, calling your office for the first time & you answered the 📞
— Lisa Wilde (@wildechick) October 20, 2017
I once called Premier House to ask if I could do an interview with Robert Muldoon for @BBCr4today. “Certainly can.
& this is him speaking.”
— HughSykes (@HughSykes) October 21, 2017
I met Helen Clark in a mountain hut when she was PM. She was nice.
But i had no idea who she was. Just climbers crossing paths at Ball Pass
— Nick (@penguinickb) October 21, 2017
The 37-year-old politician is due to take office next Thursday after securing 14 extra seats in last month’s general election.