The face of the Budget, who gave up on New Zealand and moved to Australia, says even Labour's newly announced wellbeing policies aren't enough to lure her back.

"In the future, probably. Can I bring the sunshine and surf with me? Absolutely!"

A photo of solo mum Vicky Freeman, 41, and her daughter Ruby-Jean, 9, was emblazoned across the cover of Grant Robertson's Wellbeing Budget when it rolled off the presses this week.

But the Herald revealed yesterday that Freeman had found New Zealand too expensive - so she and her daughter had upped sticks and moved to the Gold Coast.


The revelations sparked a storm in Parliament yesterday, with National Party leader Simon Bridges accusing the Government of "spin".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded that the Budget was similar to the National caucus room.

"Regardless of the smiling faces on the front, it's what happens on the inside that really matters."

Speaking to the Herald today, Freeman said she agreed with those sentiments.

"It shouldn't be about the people on the cover moving to Australia."

She said she was amazed by the level of media interest surrounding her move across the ditch which had "all just got a bit blown up".

Vicky Freeman was stunned to learn she and daughter Ruby-Jean were on the Budget's cover. Photo / Getty Image
Vicky Freeman was stunned to learn she and daughter Ruby-Jean were on the Budget's cover. Photo / Getty Image

Freeman was pleased that Ardern sent her a personal message today in response to an online query about why the Government chose her and daughter Ruby-Jean for it's glossy Budget document.

In a reply today on Instagram, Ardern said the Budget was all about "happiness".


"Simple reason really - happiness. You both looked really happy."

Freeman replied cheekily from the Gold Coast: "We are."

It was kind of Ardern to have taken time out from her busy schedule to get in touch, Freeman said.

"I know she's a people person so I was kind of just waiting."

The actress and model admitted she had not taken much interest in the finer details of yesterday's Budget announcements.

But she liked the focus on wellbeing and was positive about higher payments for beneficiaries and axing parental donations at many schools.

But were the changes enough to lure her back?

"In the future but not right now. I've just moved and me and my daughter are very happy.

"I love my country. I'm indigenous to the land. I belong in New Zealand. It would be nice to be able to come home and be happy and live there and not struggle."

Asked if was a wrench to leave her homeland, she said it was hard turning her back on the great work opportunities that were emerging before she left, which included Shortland Street and television advertisements.

But she had to make the best decision for her and her girl.

"I'm one of those people that strive. I want a better life for me and my daughter and want to be able to buy a house and that wasn't looking likely in Auckland, but it is looking likely here."

However Freeman wanted to stress that economic considerations were not the only reason for fleeing her birth land for the lucky country.

She had spent about a decade living there in her 20s and considered Australia and had many fond memories.

"I used to own a Kombi [van] and cruised around surfing. That was my 20s, that was my happy place."