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Jacinda Ardern Tells 'The Project' How Her Fiance, Clarke, Proposed

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was hiking up a mountain over the Easter holidays when her partner handed her an Easter egg ... and a ring. 

Ardern shared surprising details of her recent engagement to Clarke Gayford in a one-on-one interview with The Project's Lisa Wilkinson on Sunday night.

"Did you have any idea the moment was coming?" Wilkinson asked.

"No, absolutely not. If I did, I probably wouldn't have been wearing sweats!" Ardern laughed.

There was no public announcement of the couple's engagement, with news only emerging when a reporter spotted a ring on Ardern's middle finger.

Ardern told The Project Gayford's mother had hidden the engagement ring inside an Easter egg, which he whisked out on Mokotahi Hill on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Photo: Network 10

"He had a backpack.... [I asked], 'why do you have this backpack?'

"'Oh, my water bottle.' He asked me first, and then he handed over this Easter egg."

"So you knew the ring was inside?" Wilkinson asked.

"Well, once I gave it a shake I did!" 

READ MORE: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern To Visit Melbourne

The interview wrapped up Ardern's visit to Australia this week where she delivered a speech on 'good governance' in Melbourne and held talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison -- the leaders' first meeting since the Coalition government won the federal election in May.

Among the talking points was Australia's policy of deporting New Zealanders convicted of criminal offences -- some of whom have spent most of their lives in Australia -- which Arden said is having a "corrosive effect on our relationship".

"Oh, I think we should be fair ... the deportation policy has existed for a while and -- " Ardern began, before Wilkinson interjected, calling Morrison the "architect" of the policy.

"That is correct," Ardern continued. "When you are friends as we are, you can speak frankly with each other.

"I think it speaks to the strength of it that we do speak so openly."

It's the second time Ardern has appeared on The Project, after she spoke candidly with host Waleed Aly in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attack.

READ MORE: Lisa Wilkinson: Why Jacinda Ardern Should Be Prime Minister Of Australia And New Zealand

Four months on, Wilkinson asked Ardern how the country had changed.

"You can't have an experience like that and not be forced to reassess ourselves," she said.

"There are some things that of course we'll be incredibly proud of, in the response around the way New Zealanders wrapped their arms around the Muslim community.

"But most remarkable of all to me was actually how the Muslim community wrapped their arms around all of us."

Ardern said the terror attack had laid "extra impetus" for the country to work on issues of hatred.

"We are not a nation that is free of issues of hatred. We know that and this adds extra impetus to us to work as hard as we can on those issues," she said.

Featured image: Network 10