It’s not the first time images of babies and children in Parliament have been shared all over the world — with some of Australia’s own Parliamentarians being responsible for causing such international stirs — but it is a little more unusual in that it occurred in the speaker’s box, and involved a man.
Labour MP Tamati Coffey welcomed his son, Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey, into the world just last month. On Wednesday, the politician attended his first parliamentary debate after returning from paternity leave and his parliamentary colleagues could not have been more supportive.
Trevor Mallard took on the role of babysitter for Coffey, offering to cradle him while presiding over the debate. The image has since been shared all over the world.
“Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me,” Mallard said in tweet, along with images of him cradling and feeding baby Tūtānekai Smith-Coffey.
“Congratulations [Tāmati Coffey] and Tim on the newest member of your family.”
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
Other New Zealand MPs were also delighted by Tūtānekai’s presence.
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
In an interview with New Zealand’s Newshub, Coffey said he felt “supported by my colleagues from across the house”.
“Babies have a way of calming down the intense environment of Parliament and I think we need more of them around to remind us of the real reason we are all here,” he said.
The enthusiastic response of the New Zealand parliament on Coffey’s return to work, with a baby in tow, has once again marked New Zealand as a world leader when it comes to juggling the realities of parenthood and working in politics.
Last September, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made history when she brought her daughter Neve Te Aroha to the United Nations General Assembly. She is also the world’s second elected leader to give birth in office.