A tiny baby boy named Giovanni Hakopa was born in Tauranga just six minutes into 2018.

He was seven weeks early, the first baby of the New Year in Bay of Plenty and possibly the second in New Zealand.

His parents – Maramina Hakopa and Johnny Deegan – live in the rural community of Te Teko.

"When he first came out, I wanted to cry," Deegan, 24, said yesterday at Tauranga Hospital's special care maternity unit.

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"To be honest, I swallowed my pride there. I was a bit starry-eyed."

Weighing just over 2kg, Giovanni was a precious wee bundle of joy in a quiet, festively decorated ward.

Next to him stood his special cot, wrapped in silver tinsel and housing two teddy bears, one wearing a lime green jersey.

His parents had been waiting a week for him to arrive.

Hakopa, 25, was at the beach the Saturday before last when her waters broke.

Giovanni was due in February.

The couple went first to Whakatane Hospital and then were sent to Tauranga.

They spent the following six days waiting in Tauranga Hospital, including on Christmas Day, but there was "no sign he was coming out".

Hakopa and Deegan returned home on Friday but on Sunday night they were back.

"They said this time we were definitely going home with a baby," Hakopa said.

She said it all started happening about 8pm on Sunday and by 12.06am Giovanni was born.

Hakopa said she felt relief and happiness.

"And to just have us two in there, I don't think I would have liked anybody else."

The couple met at a party in Kawerau six years ago and this is their first child. They knew it was going to be a boy.

Deegan works in an orchard and Hakopa works in construction.

"We were waiting for him for so long," Deegan said of baby Giovanni.

Maramina Hakopa and Johnny Deegan getting to know their new son Giovanni. Photo/George Novak
Maramina Hakopa and Johnny Deegan getting to know their new son Giovanni. Photo/George Novak

While the Bay of Plenty Times was at Tauranga Hospital yesterday, Deegan held his son for the first time and said it was "overwhelming".

He said the birth of his first child was "very special".

"I reckon he's got a bright future ahead of him."

Hakopa added with a laugh: "Plenty of aunties and uncles to keep him in line."

"Plenty of family members that are just dying to see him," Deegan said.

"I'm sure they'll be here soon."

The couple thought little Giovanni might stay in Tauranga Hospital for about another three weeks, or he could be transferred to Whakatane Hospital.

He was doing well, Hakopa said.

Deegan was lost for words when asked to describe how he was feeling.

"Wow … Awesome … I'm happy … I'm stoked."

It was a good start to the New Year, he said.

"I was looking at the clock from 11pm onward … and then the doctor sort of gave us a fair idea that we were going to have a New Year's baby.

"Now I know what it's like to feel that bond with your baby and just … yeah, welcome to fatherhood."

Maramina Hakopa and Johnny Deegan with their new baby boy Giovanni, who was born seven weeks early in Tauranga. Photo/George Novak
Maramina Hakopa and Johnny Deegan with their new baby boy Giovanni, who was born seven weeks early in Tauranga. Photo/George Novak