As you may remember, #1 leader and global crush Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, was struck by tragedy in 2017. Her beloved and internet-famous cat, Paddles the polydactyl, was found dead in her home suburb of Point Chevalier, Auckland.
It was the first day of Ardern’s new parliament, and the country was rocked by the tragedy. People left flowers outside the prime minister’s house. Paddles’ death made headlines around the world.
Now, the man who killed Paddles has made a full confession to NZ’s Stuff.co.nz, explaining how it happened and the tragic aftermath.
The bloke, identified only as Chris, says he was backing out of his driveway a few doors down from the Prime Minister after popping home during his lunchbreak. When he rounded the corner, a cat streaked across the street in front of the car.
He said he’d thought the cat might be alive, as it ran off after the accident, and he searched the front lawns of his neighbours’ houses trying to locate the ginger-and-white kitty.
Then, the woman who lived next door to Jacinda emerged to ask him if he needed help. When he told her he’d hit a ginger cat, she looked “alarmed”.
She said, ‘That’s my neighbour’s cat.’ I pointed at [Ardern’s] house and said, ‘Not this neighbour!’
Alas, yes, it was that neighbour. When they eventually found Paddles behind a fence, she was dead.
Although the neighbour offered to rush Paddles to the vet, it was in vain. Chris, attempting to right his inadvertent wrong, went over to the Prime Minister’s house that afternoon – something you can apparently do in New Zealand, and I’m not sure why I’m surprised about that.
I went over and knocked on the door and Clarke [Ardern’s partner] came out. He was really nice and said ‘look, it could have happened to anyone’. He was clearly very upset.
The story doesn’t end there – Chris’s two kids wrote a condolence letter to the Prime Minister and her partner, with one expressing her fervent wish that she not be sent to jail.
Then, about a month later, Chris received a voicemail from the Prime Minister herself.
It was none other than Jacinda and she basically rang up to say ‘sorry you had to go through that, thank you for stopping by and thanks for the card.’
Even that is not a sweet enough ending to this sad tale. Chris recounts that a little while later, he actually bumped into the PM in person.
I was at the park in Point Chevalier with my two older kids and saw this small entourage come down by the beach, it was Jacinda with some relatives. Being classic New Zealand, everyone recognises her but looks the other way, everyone left her alone and I was 100 per cent going to do the same.
However, my son goes over – he was four at the time – and starts playing with her niece on those circular seats that spin round and Jacinda was essentially overseeing them both.
My boy was boisterous and I wanted to make sure that nothing bad happened to her niece because something bad had already happened to her cat.
Oh my god. But yes, Chris, continue:
I told her I was aware of where she lived and I basically confessed that I was the one who ran over Paddles. I said, ‘I’m so sorry’, and then she said, ‘No, I’m sorry’ and it kind of went round in circles.
So basically, this:
Fortunately, according to Paddles’ posthumous Twitter account, all is forgiven.
— The Ghost of Paddles (@FirstCatofNZ) July 10, 2019