It's been a wonderful time, entirely composed of good-natured debates over the issues that matter. Here The Spinoff relives the thrills, spills and please chills of the 2017 New Zealand election campaign.
1. Metiria Turei starts us very early with an audacious and ultimately doomed confession
It was way ahead of the official campaign, but this election undeniably began at the Greens' annual conference on July 17, when then co-leader Metiria Turei confessed to historic benefit fraud while announcing a bold suite of social welfare reforms. It was more than two months out from election day, yet set in motion many of the most significant events of the campaign.
2. A bombshell poll bodies Andrew Little, and elevates Jacinda Ardern
A Colmar-Brunton poll showed the power of Turei's gamble, with the Greens on 15%, just nine points behind a dismal and decrepit Labour. Andrew Little equivocated about his own leadership and two days later Ardern was elevated to a leadership role she had been doing a very convincing impression of not wanting at all.
3. The Turei saga dragged on and got awful
In parallel to the first wave of Jacinda-mania came ever-increasing heat on Turei. She was resolute, but slowly her position got chipped away. There was a revelation of minor electoral fraud, Ardern's ruling her out as a minister then two of her own MPs resigning in protest. Then, on the same day, allegations she had more family help than she'd let on and a poll showing a big drop in Greens' support.
4. Meanwhile, there was still a National Party
The left was the only story in town, with first Jacindamania and then the Turei resignation. But National were still breathing, trying to figure out how to combat a very different style and energy. They continued to release policy and tried to quell a rising panic upon realising the election was to be conducted on very different terms.
5. Peter Dunne resigned, the Greens hit bottom and some policy came out
The wave of support for Labour claimed another casualty: coiffed up bowtie Peter Dunne, who took the coward's way out rather than take an expected beating from Greg O'Connor in Ohariu. The Greens slumped to under five percent, more sober assessments of Ardern emerged and the kneejerk policy announcements began.
6. The 'mother of all scandals' and the campaign officially kicks off
It started, like everything bad, with a tweet. By Monday morning the 'mother of all scandals' had been revealed to be a long-running superannuation overpayment to Winston Peters. He might have been complicit, but the fact of it got overrun by the fact of its smallness and his combative pre-emption. Regardless, it got overtaken by events as the campaign properly kicked off.
7. The phoney war ended and debate season began
The interminable campaign was beginning to drag. We needed the bloodsport of a debate. Despite a popular and not good petition to have him removed, Mike Hosking did a great job in the first debate against a backdrop of tightening polls, while Gower did likewise in the round for the second debate.
8. Steven Joyce digs an $11.7b hole and The Spinoff does a debate
After weeks of muddling about whether to be restrained and respectful, or return to base, National settled on a hard negative to Ardern's 'relentless positivity'. This peaked with Steven Joyce's extraordinary claim of an $11.7b 'fiscal hole' in Labour's costed budget - an allegation dismissed (albeit with some caveats) by what felt like every economist in the country within hours. It opened the way to 'Let's Tax This', and National's very effective rejuvenation. We also had a fucking mint debate.
9. Things got chaotic in early September
There were electorate debates, ultra-bizarre interviews, viral babe party leaders, super funny wrestling tag teams... the election actually got super fun there for about a week.
10. The end came in a storm of lies, Leighton and 'but landlines!'
The good times never could last. It got tense and furious, with beef between National and Labour, Labour and the Greens, the Greens and TOP, and Winston and Guyon Espiner. The race tightened then loosened, waves of euphoria and despair washed in multiple directions and suddenly we were here, facing the actual day, exhausted but finally free.
- The Spinoff