Duncan Garner gives Jacinda Ardern customised Christmas present bearing her infamous COVID-19 comeback

The moment Jacinda Ardern fired a feisty retort at The AM Show host Duncan Garner has been memorialised on a personalised gift for the Prime Minister, who exchanged presents with the show's co-hosts ahead of the Christmas festivities.

During an interview in May, Garner challenged the Government's decision to keep New Zealand under alert level 3 of the COVID-19 response - criticism the Prime Minister contested with a quick-witted comeback.

"I reckon this week looks like last week, and next week could look like this week. All the international experts are saying that this is going to be the new normal for months and months and months. What are we waiting for?" Garner, Newshub's former political editor, fired off.

"I didn't realise you were an epidemiologist. Congratulations on your new qualification, Duncan," Ardern responded bluntly.

Appearing on The AM Show on Monday, the Prime Minister and Garner laughed off the heated exchange, with Ardern - a frequent guest of the show - jokingly admitting that she tells Garner off "most weeks".

Yet it appeared that Garner hadn't entirely moved on from the scolding, presenting the Prime Minister with a customised mug emblazoned with her clap-back.

"You just can't let things go, can you Duncan," co-host Mark Richardson quipped.

Ardern promised that the mug - blue-and-yellow, printed with COVID-19 particles - will be put to good use.

"I feel like you should have this. I hope that you've got your own," she said.

The Prime Minister also came bearing presents, gifting Garner a vegan cookbook of junk-food recipes. The host pledged to adopt a vegan diet for one year if Ardern's Labour Party won enough votes to govern alone in the October election - a feat they achieved.

"I could almost say that I now love you, Prime Minister," Garner joked as he unwrapped the cookbook. "This could become very, very useful."

The PM and Garner exchanged Christmas gifts, with The AM Show host receiving a vegan cookbook of junk-food recipes.
The PM and Garner exchanged Christmas gifts, with The AM Show host receiving a vegan cookbook of junk-food recipes. Photo credit: The AM Show

Richardson - an outspoken National supporter who is openly critical of Ardern and her Government - was given a toy toolbox set from Kmart, a reference to Richardson's role as the host of The Block New Zealand. Production of the hit show was temporarily postponed this year as the country battled recurring outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus.

"I was thinking I would be on the naughty list. The fact that you're giving me a gift is quite symbolic in nature - you're saying you are a Prime Minister for all of New Zealand," Richardson laughed. 

"There is no proof of that greater than yourself," Ardern shot back.

"We shouldn't get too carried away - it's just a little ode to not everyone getting to do the things they love this year."

The Prime Minister also added that the wooden kit is the favoured toy of her two-year-old daughter, Neve.

Meanwhile, newsreader Amanda Gillies received a "bedazzled" whistle - a reference to her unofficial role as the show's mediator.

"That's to call time on you two. It will be well-used," she said.

The gift exchange was a lighthearted end to an otherwise serious interview, during which Ardern was questioned on the decision to deny early access to a Royal Commission report - investigating last year's Christchurch terror attacks - to the families of victims living overseas. 

She was also grilled on Newshub's exclusive report that the Government has yet to finish its draft for Smokefree 2025 - despite the goal being just four years away.