“Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me,” Mallard wrote on Twitter. “Congratulations @tamaticoffey and Tim on the newest member of your family.”
Coffey and Smith’s son, Tutanekai Smith-Coffey, was born July 10 via a surrogate, TVNZ reported. The network reported that the couple is in the process of adopting Tutanekai, whose name comes from a famous love story of the Te Arawa tribe. Coffey has said he is of Te Arawa descent.
Other members of Parliament expressed joy at seeing a baby on the chamber floor. “Lovely to have a baby in the House, and what a beautiful one @tamaticoffey,” wrote Gareth Hughes, a representative of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Golriz Ghahraman, also of the Green Party, shared a photo of Coffey holding his child on Twitter and wrote: “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.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, one of a small number of world leaders to give birth while in office, brought her 3-month-old daughter, Neve Gayford, to the U.N. General Assembly last year. Neve got a temporary U.N. badge with a photo of her sleeping while wearing a blue beanie and identifying her as “Ms. Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.”
In the United States, the 10-day-old daughter of Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) became the first child allowed on the Senate floor after lawmakers voted to allow babies younger than 1 to accompany their parents to votes. Maile Pearl Bowlsbey was greeted by applause when she arrived at the U.S. Capitol on April 19, 2018, wearing a duckling onesie and a sweater.
Lawmakers’ young children have also made appearances at other countries’ governing bodies, including England’s House of Commons and Australia’s Parliament. An Icelandic member of Parliament in 2016 breast-fed her daughter while defending a bill she had proposed.
Kenya’s temporary speaker of the National Assembly, Chris Omulele, however, told lawmaker Zuleikha Hassan this month that she had to leave the floor because she had brought her baby. Several lawmakers walked out in protest, the New York Times reported.
“I said, ‘Why should I stay at home and not go to work, just because of the baby?’ ” Hassan told the Times. “Why should they criminalize having a baby? So, I said, ‘I’m going to Parliament with a baby.’ ”