Forget Bill, Jacinda and Winston - who owned the election night coverage? The Herald's news team make their picks.
Like an undecided voter I found myself chopping and changing between two parties. Easily swayed and fickle. Unable to commit wholeheartedly behind just the one. TVNZ dangled flashy 3D baubles in front of me and had a desk filled with their heavy hitters, including dear aunty Hilary. They made a strong case. They also had ad breaks, for which I had a zero tolerance approach.
So when they cut away, so did I. My loyalty pivoted back to my pals at the office, sweating it out on nzherald.co.nz to provide live video coverage for the first time ever. Newstalk ZB and the Herald had combined their considerable news powers to provide commentary and analysis so, as you'd expect, they were bang on. Heather Du Plessis-Allan proved unflappable as host, deftly prodding her panel for answers and effortlessly holding things together.
Meanwhile Tristram Clayton bounded around the office grilling journos, politicians and prodding a giant touch screen to run us through the numbers. It was a strange thrill to see my desk on the telly when he conducted interviews in the Herald's newsroom. I really wish I'd tidied it up...
But unlike the ever updating tallies that stayed a constant throughout the night, I couldn't sit still and kept switching allegiances. Always worried I might miss something. Ever wondering what I might get out of the other side. The answer, it turns out, mirrored the final result: more of the same.
Chris Schulz: At 6.59pm I turned on Three expecting to watch Patrick Gower's head swell then slowly explode over the following four hours. It didn't happen. In fact, isolated in front of some pretty stern graphics, Gower looked like he'd been left in a chemist under blinding fluorescent lights. He was woefully underused throughout the bulletin. Instead, Three's election night coverage was helmed by the energetic duo Duncan Garner and Lisa Owen, who earned points for their occasionally cheeky questions.
But they were overshadowed by Linda Clark and her constant flow of authoritative political expertise. She possibly had the line of the night when she declared: "Winston Peters is not the comeback kid ... he's not a kid." But it had all been building up to this, and this should have been Gower's night. But Three kept their political bulldog, their key point of difference, their devastating secret weapon, on an extremely short leash. Poor Paddy. I hope he gets another chance.
Jennifer Mortimer: TVNZ 1's coverage started with a bang that included some seriously high tech gadgets and graphics. It was all looking promising for hosts Mike Hosking and Hilary Barry, until everything started to go wrong. The high tech seating chart stopped working, as did the majority of crossovers, and then literally everyone kept interrupting Stacey Morrison and it made for awkward viewing. However with all things considered it was still good viewing and the panel brought together some fair and balanced discussions.
Sophie Ryan: My preferred viewing for the night was NZME's livestream, which I watched on my iPad in my lap while the rest of the room tuned into Newshub and Radio NZ on TV. Heather Du Plessis-Allen steered NZME's polished panel of political and business experts, while Tristram Clayton roamed NZME with energy and enthusiasm to burn, showing interactive results from electorates on a smart screen and interviewing various people in the building. The coverage was smart and polished, but still had an element of fun and excitement.
It's a sign of the times that New Zealand's primary radio broadcaster became a formidable opponent to the two major television networks on election night. Granted, they didn't quite have the technological chops of TVNZ and Three - there were a number of audio mishaps, while live crosses were often fuzzy, pixelated and struggled to maintain focus. But the commentary was thorough and nuanced, with a broad range of viewpoints accounted for - and an invaluable Māori voice leading the dialogue with the exceptional Mihingarangi Forbes co-fronting the main panel (along with John Campbell and Jane Patterson). Guyon Espiner led a rotating panel of political analysts from both the left and right which provided useful insight into the most interesting electorates and the night's biggest surprises. It was substance over style.
Siena Yates: I went to an election party where we switched between Radio NZ and Three. Radio NZ felt a little cobbled together at the last minute; the quality was poor and the live-cross interviews were sketchy. It was, however, great to have Mihi Forbes speaking in te reo Maori and actually pronouncing things properly, (the same cannot be said for most other hosts on the night). By comparison, Three was far more slick and felt a lot brighter and more energetic and their journalists seemed to have better access to interviews. That all said, our little election party was very vocal, and how well can you really judge coverage when everyone's just yelling over the TV anyway?