Culture

The Guy Who Killed Paddles, First Cat Of New Zealand, Has Finally Owned Up To It

His seven-year-old daughter begged Ardern not to send her dad to prison.

Paddles Jacinda Ardern Cat

Two years ago, on a sad Wednesday, we received the fateful news: Paddles, the polydactyl cat belonging to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, had been killed by a passing car.

It was a devastating day — New Zealand, and indeed much of the world, went into mourning. As First Cat of New Zealand, Paddles was widely beloved. She even had close to 11,000 followers on her very own Twitter account, where she advocated for refugees and showed off her funky extra toes.

After Paddles died, Jacinda Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford were flooded with cards, flowers and tributes to Paddles’ memory. And this week, we learned that one of those cards was from the guy who killed her, who felt just awful about what happened.

In an article published yesterday on Stuff.co.nzthe killer, identified only as Chris, came forward to tell his story. It turns out he lived down the street from Ardern, and had driven home at lunchtime one day to pick up a laptop. When he backed out of his driveway, Paddles ran into the road, and he hit her.

Chris told Stuff that he went searching for Paddles to see if she was okay, and eventually ran into another neighbour who told him who the cat belonged to.

“She said: ‘that’s my neighbour’s cat’,” Chris said. “I pointed at [Ardern’s] house and said: ‘Not this neighbour!'”

Paddles was taken to the vet, but (spoiler) she did not survive. And so, that afternoon, Chris had to walk over to Ardern’s house and tell Clarke, who was home, what had happened.

“I went over and knocked on the door and Clarke came out. He was really nice and said ‘look, it could have happened to anyone’. He was clearly very upset.”

Chris and his two young children wrote Ardern a card saying how sorry they were — his seven-year-old daughter asked Ardern not to send her dad to prison. Around a month later, he received a voicemail from Ardern, where she apologised for what he’d had to go through. Honestly, what a queen.

RIP Paddles. And Chris, thanks for coming forward.