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In 2017, Jacinda Ardern's cat Paddles was found dead. Now, her killer has confessed.

By all accounts, Tuesday, November 7 2017 brought a typical Spring day to Auckland, New Zealand.

It was sunny, but the temperature reached just a mild 19 degrees as a bit of cloud passed over, bringing with it a mild breeze.

The country’s newly sworn in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was out of town in Wellington, preparing to open Parliament for the first time in her new role. At the same time, tragedy was unfolding outside her home 650 kilometres north.

Side note: Jacinda Ardern is ALL. OF. US. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

A day later the country would learn that the ‘First Cat of New Zealand’, Paddles, who was recognisable by her ginger and white coat and opposable thumbs, had been the victim of a terrible accident.

Paddles did not make it.

Ardern, her partner Clarke Gayford and the Kiwi population mourned.

They reminisced about Paddles’ best moments, like that time she interrupted a phone call between Ardern and the President of the United States with her loud meows. Paddles knew Ardern wasn’t super stoked about her required chat with Donald Trump, so she did her best to end it quickly.

Paddles was selfless like that.

For 20 months, the country wondered what had happened to dear Paddles. Who had done it? Who had killed the first cat?

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Yesterday – presumably after a long investigation involving undercover journalists, animal whisperers and psychic mediums – the mystery was solved.

Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand’s largest online media site, had pieced together the puzzle of Paddles’ death and even managed to get a confession from the man behind the wheel of the car that hit her.

It was, seriously, the scoop of the decade.

A push notification was delivered to the phones of every reader: “CONFESSION: ‘I killed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s cat, Paddles’,” it read.

As their phones buzzed, Kiwis gasped. They stopped what they were doing. They had never clicked on anything faster in their lives.

Finally, they thought. Finally some peace of mind.

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The investigation found on that fateful day, a man known only as Chris rushed home from work on his lunch break to pick up his laptop. As he returned to work, he turned a corner.

Out of nowhere shot a cat. But it wasn’t just any cat. It was Paddles.

Chris hit her, initially hopeful she was okay as she ran off after the collision. Sadly, it was not to be.

The prime minister’s next door neighbour came out and asked him if he needed help. Chris, not yet aware of the gravity of the situation, told her he’d hit a cat.

A ginger cat – was it hers?

The neighbour looked alarmed.

“She said: ‘That’s my neighbour’s cat’,” Chris explained to Stuff. A local himself, he was familiar with the very important woman who lived next door.

“I pointed at [Ardern’s] house and said: ‘Not this neighbour!'”

Oh… Chris. Yes, that neighbour.

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Paddles was discovered dead behind a nearby fence.

Chris returned to work racked with guilt. His afternoon was tough, and after his shift he returned to the scene of the crime.

Gayford was home. Chris bravely wandered up to the front door. He no doubt hesitated – he was about to admit to hitting the prime minister’s cat, after all.

“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.”

Time passed and Chris’ two young children began to panic. Ardern was the prime minister and she knew what he had done. What dire consequences could he face???

His daughter, who was seven at the time, wrote a letter to Ardern and Gayford. She said that she hoped Ardern would not send her father to prison. A very valid concern.

About a month later, Chris received a voicemail from a blocked number.

“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’,” he said.

“It was extremely nice of her to take time out of her day to check that I was okay for running over her cat.”

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The Prime Minister of New Zealand had forgiven him for Paddles’ death, but he still struggled to let it go.

Months later the rest of the world had moved on. But Paddles, who was immortalised by her Twitter account and many donations to NZ’s SPCA, still weighed on the minds of the average Kiwi. Every so often they’d remember Paddles.

Sweet Paddles, they’d sigh, she did not deserve this.

When Chris saw the prime minister at a local park with her family – ah, New Zealand – he took the opportunity to confess in person.

Kudos, Chris. You are braver than we are.

“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,” he said but… well, we can only assume he was being tormented by the sounds of meows that somehow sounded like “TELL HER OR I WILL HAUNT YOU FOREVER”

“I basically confessed that I was the one who ran over Paddles,” Chris recalled. “I said, ‘I’m so sorry’, and then she said, ‘No, I’m sorry’ and it kind of went round in circles.”

More than a year and a half later, Chris wanted to offer his apologies to New Zealand.

“It was kind of shocking at first, and I felt fairly bad because I knew a bit of the back story. I knew Paddles had some kind of social media presence and had an extra toe.

“I was also aware that to Jacinda and Clarke, Paddles was their fur baby at that point that they loved, so I was pretty gutted. But I obviously later found out they were pregnant so that made me feel a bit better that I didn’t take out the only one thing that they loved.”

As New Zealanders read the findings of the investigation, floods of emotion came back.

Reliving the trauma of Paddles’ death was tough for everyone – Chris included – but it was necessary closure.

The ghost of Paddles, who presumably also has opposable thumbs just like she did when she was alive, summed up the mood of the nation.

“I forgive you,” she tweeted from over the rainbow bridge.

The mystery that had gripped a country for close to two years finally ended.

Thank you, Stuff.co.nz, for your unrelenting commitment to the truth.

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