NZ House Speaker Feeds Baby in Parliament

In the middle of a session, the speaker of New Zealand's Parliament rocked and fed another lawmaker's baby. And it's not the first time this has happened…

Making parliament more child-friendly

New Zealand Parliamentary Speaker Trevor Mallard Fed a colleague’s baby while presiding over a debate. The one-month-old baby, Tūtānekai, was born through surrogacy. He’s the son of lawmaker Tāmati Coffey and his partner Tim Smith. August 21 marked Coffey’s return to Parliament after his paternity leave. Mallard said that he wanted to help his colleague. Gareth Hughes, another parliamentary member, shared a photo of the young father with his son on Twitter. This is not a first for Mallard — in 2017, he babysat for parliamentary member Willow-Jean Prime’s 3-month-old daughter. Their presence provides a boost to morale, evidenced from the eagerness of official messengers to swap their usual document deliveries for the task of taking an infant into parliament instead, he said.

But worker rights advocates said few New Zealanders get the same rights to balance caring for their families with work, and they hope the high-profile parliamentary babies will bring a wider change in working conditions. Tania Te Whenua, a Maori lawyer who is working on a case for New Zealand’s largest union, the Public Service Association, alleging discrimination against indigenous Maori women employees, said she had felt hostility in previous workplaces over her young children visiting her at work. In September 2018, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern brought her three-month-old daughter, Neve, to a UN meeting. Her daughter Neve Te Aroha made headlines in September when she accompanied Ms. Ardern to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The newborn joins many other babies in the legislature after Mr. Mallard relaxed rules in 2017 to make parliament more child friendly. She expressed support for the parliament speaker’s family policies. Mr. Mallard, a political veteran, and father of three adult children, with six grandchildren, hoped more employers would follow his lead.