Best election night speech:

TOP leader, Gareth Morgan, for complete lack of spin and subtlety. Selfish New Zealanders, which felt like all of us, got a talking to.

Likeability award:

Not Jacinda (though she is). To Bill English, who, I grudgingly admit, is someone I'd rather have a beer with than John Key. Wouldn't agree on much, but it would be civil.

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Dumbest strategy: Labour's tax policy that wasn't. Jacinda Ardern's instincts to have one were right, only she fudged it. That mistake won't be repeated.

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Vaughan Gunson: Election night will be compulsive viewing

Best lie: Not the $11.7 billion fiscal hole. No, it was National's claim that it had got the Government's finances back into black. Since coming to power National has increased government debt by 450 per cent.

Helen Clark's Labour government left the debt level at 5.4 per cent of GDP. It's now 25 per cent of GDP. National was in a good position to deal with the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquake only because of the previous Labour government's financial prudence.

National is borrowing to cover its tax cuts for high income earners. Fiscally responsible?

Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern with her partner Clarke Gayford, as friends and colleagues gather at a barbecue at her home in Pt Chevalier, Auckland, the day after the election.
Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern with her partner Clarke Gayford, as friends and colleagues gather at a barbecue at her home in Pt Chevalier, Auckland, the day after the election.

Saddest moment:

Metiria Turei and her family being hounded by the media. That was ugly. A talented, committed Maori woman is no longer in Parliament. Simply sad.

Hardest workers: The Greens getting over 5 per cent had nothing to do with leader James Shaw, it was the Green Party activists who did it. The media focus on leaders gets it so wrong at times.

Surprise of the election: That women don't have the right to choose an abortion. I thought I was living in a modern liberal country not the Victorian age. Totally flabbergasted.

Teary eye moment: Jacinda Ardern's election night speech. She certainly knows how to push the right buttons. Even National supporters would have to admit her rise to such heights in seven weeks has been a great story. I'm just not sure yet if I'm watching a really good movie or the real thing.

The Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Gareth Morgan during his speech at his party's election night function in Wellington.
The Opportunities Party (TOP) leader Gareth Morgan during his speech at his party's election night function in Wellington.

Best smile:

Not who you think, it was Winston Peters in Russell the day after the election. Not many MPs who've just lost their seat have ever looked so happy. In his element giving journalists a hard time.

Biggest disappointment: That one million people again didn't vote. Less than a third of the adult population voted for National. That's no moral mandate.

Biggest fear: That the price of Winston's coalition support is a crackdown on immigration, giving the green light to racist targeting of migrant communities that don't look like "Kiwis". Please please no.

In the most political danger: The National Party. It might not fully realise it yet, but it's in danger territory. If National isn't seen to be doing something decisive about the housing crisis, the generational wealth gap and climate change in this next term (presuming Winston makes that choice) then there'll be long years in opposition, because young voters are going to remember, including those at school now.