Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has kicked off her week in New York, arriving as the security measures ramped up in preparation for more than 140 world leaders - and especially US President Donald Trump.

Leaders' week at the UN General Assembly involves cordoned off streets, cars being towed and warnings of traffic gridlock as the presidential motorcade and those of other leaders swept through the streets.

After arriving at midnight on Saturday night New York time, Ardern kicked off her week this morning on familiar ground - talking about her priority area of children in a speech to a welcoming audience at the Social Good Summit, held in the 92nd Street Y in uptown Manhattan.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Social Good Summit with UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. Photo / supplied
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Social Good Summit with UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. Photo / supplied

She referred to the fact the US was yet to have a woman as President: "We've had three female Prime Ministers. It's really not a big deal, guys."


It was met with cheers and laughter, before she carried on to speak about her priorities, her focus on children, the policies she was pursuing and her experience as a mother and Prime Minister.

She said while poverty was relative, New Zealand still had a problem with poverty and her goal was to address that. She said while New Zealand's economic growth over the past years had been praised internationally, that to her was not a mark of success while people still lived in poverty.

"Today marks one year ago that the election was held in New Zealand. That election ultimately brought me and my Government into office and I want to use this one year anniversary to re-commit myself and our Government to becoming the best place in the world to be a child."

After a glowing introduction, Ardern said she was not the gold standard of mothers.

"Every time someone remarks upon the fact that I'm only the second [woman] leader in the world to have had a child while in office, I'm reminded that I am lucky. I have incredible support network around me, I have the ability to take my child to work ... I am not the gold standard for bringing up a child in this current environment because there are things about my circumstances that are not the same."

Ardern also revealed there were some circumstances that were the same as any other parent - she may not have had much sleep the night before.

After panellist Julie Gichuru revealed baby Neve was out the back and was "so peaceful," Ardern wryly noted "she wasn't at 3.30 this morning".

Ardern is also due to meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres today and New Zealand businesses tonight before the less familiar territory of hard diplomacy begins tomorrow when the leaders week begins.


Ardern will attend a reception hosted by Trump and has a series of bilateral meetings expected, many with leaders of European countries whom she has not yet met with in a bid to keep up momentum with the EU free trade talks.