WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said she had named her first child Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, as she left an Auckland hospital with her partner on Sunday, three days after her daughter was born.
Ms. Ardern, the leader of the center-left Labour Party and the first sitting world leader to give birth in almost three decades, will take six weeks of parental leave before returning to work.
The deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, who is the leader of a minor party, is acting prime minister in her absence.
At a short news conference on Sunday, Ms. Ardern, 37, who had said before the birth that she and her partner, Clarke Gayford, were struggling to name their child, said they had chosen Neve for a first name because “we just liked it.”
“In various forms, it means ‘bright’ and ‘radiant’ and ‘snow,’ which seemed like a good name for Matariki and solstice,” she said, referring to the current New Year celebrations of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people.
Te Aroha means “love” in the Maori language, and Ms. Ardern said it was chosen to reflect the amount of love her daughter had received “before she even arrived.”
It was also a way of acknowledging the many names given to the baby before her birth by New Zealand’s Maori iwi, or tribes, she said.
Te Aroha is also the name of the rural town Ms. Ardern’s family is from.
Ms. Ardern has held office since last October, and announced her pregnancy in January. Her ascent to the Labour Party leadership less than two months before the election in September prompted a turnaround of the ailing party’s fortunes.
The swell of support for Ms. Ardern was termed “Jacindamania” by the news media, and she gained global attention when she told a television interviewer that it was “unacceptable” to ask women who worked whether they planned to have children.
She is New Zealand’s third female prime minister, but the first to have a child while in office or to take parental leave.
Ms. Ardern, asked by reporters about the significance of the birth, said she hoped it would one day be accepted “not just that women can make choices, but actually that men can too.”
“Clarke’s being as much of a role model here as I am,” she said of her partner, Mr. Gayford, who will be a stay-at-home parent when Ms. Ardern returns to work.
“I hope for little girls and boys that actually there’s a future where they can make choices about how they raise their family and what kind of career they have that are based on what they want and what makes them happy,” she said. “Simple.”
Ms. Ardern added that she and Mr. Gayford were “not placing any great expectations on this little baby except happiness and love.”
While she acknowledged the intense international interest around the birth of her child, she said the handmade knitted gifts she had received from the New Zealand public had been the most meaningful. Ms. Ardern said gifts would be passed on to other families once her daughter had finished using them.
She said the messages she had received from world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, had been “lovely” and “mind-blowing.”
“It’s certainly not something you expect,” Ms. Ardern said. “But equally special to us were just those moments of people who took time to send a little note, or a blanket or a set of bootees.”
The prime minister’s office said earlier that a bouquet of flowers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been too large to fit into Ms. Ardern’s hospital room. She had asked that the flowers be displayed at the maternity ward’s reception area instead.
New Zealanders have shared their excitement about the birth on social media this week, with many mentioning the prime minister’s understated choices.
“Jacinda Ardern arrived at hospital in her own car, with Clarke driving. No Crown limo or special ambulance,” said one Twitter user. “Her baby was delivered in a public hospital alongside everyone else’s. No private hospital. No extra special attention.”
Others joked on social media about New Zealand’s small size — the South Pacific country has a population of 4.5 million — and tightly knit society, saying that all citizens were now “uncles and aunties.”
New Zealand’s public hospital nurses are set to take industrial action on July 5, after rejecting a pay offer from their government-funded employers.
Asked by reporters about the impending strike, Ms. Ardern said her experience at Auckland City Hospital, the largest public hospital in New Zealand, reinforced her belief that the “value in that work force” needed to be reflected in their compensation as well as in health policy.
Ms. Ardern’s daughter shares a birthday with the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Ms. Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, was the last world leader to give birth while in office, delivering her second child, a daughter, in 1990.