The Speaker of New Zealand’s Parliament is getting praise from across the world after he briefly took on the role of babysitter while presiding over the House. Photos of him feeding a legislator’s baby while carrying out his duties are going viral.
Speaker Trevor Mallard tweeted photos of himself cradling and feeding MP Tāmati Coffey’s baby boy in the chair saying, “Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me.”
Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me. Congratulations @tamaticoffey and Tim on the newest member of your family. pic.twitter.com/47ViKHsKkA
— Trevor Mallard (@SpeakerTrevor) August 21, 2019
Little Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey was brought into the House of Representatives by his father, the Labour MP for Waiariki, on his first day back at work since taking paternity leave. In an interview with Newshub, Coffey said he felt “supported by my colleagues from across the house”.
The six-week-old son of Coffey and his husband, born via a surrogate mother last month, was being cuddled by his father in the debating chamber on Wednesday when the speaker offered to hold him.
Other MPs were also delighted by little Tūtānekai’s presence in the House.
Who needs to see this today? Every single last one of us, that’s who. Here’s a brand new papa holding his new born in our House of Representatives right now 😭❤️ pic.twitter.com/NU00SHfKFT
— Golriz Ghahraman (@golrizghahraman) August 21, 2019
— Gareth Hughes (@GarethMP) August 21, 2019
During the session, while Coffey was busy with the debate on fuel prices, Mallard, who is a father of three, gladly took on the role of a babysitter while continuing as the Speaker.
“There are times when I can be vaguely useful,” Mallard told Reuters, adding that he tried to help care for lawmakers’ babies when possible.
Mallard hoped more employers in New Zealand would follow his lead.
“What I’ve found is that it adds to the positive atmosphere of the workplace,” he said, adding that he regularly encountered babies in the halls of power and even the indoor parliamentary swimming pool.
His move was praised by people around the world, who lauded the members of NZ Parliament for showing the world that parenting and politics and go hand-in-hand.
Amid so much bad news, here’s something lovely. https://t.co/lKKpgsGq7E
— Carin Zissis (@CarinZissis) August 22, 2019
— Richie Hardcore (@RichieHardcore) August 22, 2019
What a powerful and soulful picture!!!
A lawmaker @tamaticoffey in New Zealand brought his baby to the parliament after coming back from paternity leave. The House speaker @SpeakerTrevor babysat for him during a debate. pic.twitter.com/KaqMyIYhdv
— Rema Rajeshwari IPS (@rama_rajeswari) August 21, 2019
Just another day in New Zealand’s Parliament https://t.co/E87cdiOTAj
— Tali Aualiitia (@taliaualiitia) August 21, 2019
this is so cute and wholesome 🥺🥺🥺 https://t.co/ig60yju2Ez
— atsd 📌 amy 💌 sangi (@angeIsan) August 22, 2019
Kia ora, NZ. I seriously want to cry because this is how things should be everywhere, and I’m afraid the US will never get there. https://t.co/KpaSjswqMf
— Texty the Social Justice Bard (@textualdeviance) August 22, 2019
Picture of the Day! ❤️
The Speaker of #NewZealand Parliament babysits the baby of a lawmaker during a debate in the parliament.
The lawmaker just returned from his paternity leave.
— Nausheen Khan (@DrNausheenKhan) August 22, 2019
— Ananth Rupanagudi (@rananth) August 21, 2019
— Feroz Louis (@FerozLouis) August 22, 2019
— D Fronterhouse (@DFronterhouse) August 22, 2019
New Zealand is showing the world how it’s done…AGAIN. https://t.co/7bJ5qSzwpw
— Shay (@realdivipro) August 21, 2019
About a dozen MPs have had infants in a parliamentary baby boom, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year became New Zealand’s first premier to take maternity leave and the world’s second elected leader to give birth in office.
Prime Minister Ardern had also taken her little daughter, Neve, to her debut speech at the United Nations in New York last year in September.
British MP Jo Swinson also made headlines after she became the first MP to take her baby into the House of Commons and had said she hopes it will signal a step forward in modernising parliament. Australian Senator Larissa Waters, who breastfed in parliament during a debate in 2017, also made history.
with inputs from Reuters