Kiwis are backing Jacinda Ardern's stance that it is "totally unacceptable" in this day and age to force a woman to divulge her baby-making plans.

The new Labour leader hit back at AM Show host Mark Richardson after he suggested the country had a right to know her plans of motherhood this morning.

He also suggested employers needed to know if a prospective employee was planning on having a child in the near future.

While Ardern maintained she was not offended people had asked about her vision to be a mother, she said it was not okay to make it an imperative of women seeking a job.


A non-scientific Herald poll this morning shows the majority of respondents - 65 per cent of 9200 voters - say it is not okay to ask women about their baby plans in the workplace.

Thirty-two per cent felt it was okay to ask the question.

Within hours of taking on the role as leader of the Labour Party, the 37-year-old has been asked several times about her desire to be a mother.

Last night, on TV3's The Project, she was asked if she needed to make a decision between her career and her dreams to be a mum.

The questions have rankled some and raised debate about just how appropriate they are - despite Ardern's insistence she was happy to answer them.

On Twitter, Hilary Barry said: "Please can every nob who asks that ask the same of Bill English."

Newshub's Ingrid Hipkiss said she was "not on board with the question".

Another on twitter, Karen Sweeny, pointed out PM Bill English was 39, with six kids aged two to 13 when he was opposition leader.


On the AM Show this morning Richardson took the debate further and pushed Ardern's tolerance with his suggestion employers had a right to know.

"If you are the employer of a company you need to know that type of thing from the woman you are employing ... the question is, is it okay for a PM to take maternity leave while in office?"

Kiwis are backing Jacinda Ardern's stance that it is
Kiwis are backing Jacinda Ardern's stance that it is "totally unacceptable" in this day and age to force a woman to divulge her baby-making plans. Photo: NZH/Mark Mitchell

Ardern pointed at Richardson as she said in 2017 it was "totally unacceptable" to say a woman should have to answer that question in the workplace.

"It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children, it should not predetermine whether or not they are given a job, or have job opportunities."

Richardson defended his statement saying it was only right that an employer know so they could allow for that person to take a year of leave.

"I'm not saying don't employ that person."

Ardern questioned: "Would you ask a man if they are likely to have kids in the future?" to which Richardson said yes.

The Human Rights Commission advises employers against asking questions related to "pregnancy, proposed pregnancy, contraception or family planning, or parenthood".

"These types of questions risk breaching the act as they could be seen as indicating an intention to employ, or not employ, applicants based on whether they're responsible for children or not."