Anything could happen between now and the election in eight weeks. That's what makes election campaigns so exciting.
When politicians are on their best behaviour, trying to roll out highly planned campaigns, you can be guaranteed that the unpredictable, the unexpected and downright diabolical will happen.
National will be trying to stick to a tightly controlled script; Labour's poll ratings mean it will be willing to take a lot more risks. But this campaign will be as much about the small parties as the large ones. They will have a large influence on who ends up on the Treasury benches, and there has never been such a volatile mix.
We will cover the campaign throughout the country and analyse the consequences. We will also give you the background to serious policy and what it means for you.
We will bring you some of the great electorate battles around the country, and personality profiles, and regularly take the public pulse through Herald-DigiPoll surveys.
The human side of party leaders is revealed in our Leaders Unplugged series, which began on Saturday.
But their policies and plans will feature in our coverage, including video interviews we will be running for digital platforms next month.
Today, the Herald is reviving its "Porkometer" to keep a running count of the big-spending policy promises of National and Labour. It will be monitored by Press Gallery journalist Adam Bennett, a former business reporter.
The Herald has one of the most experienced stable of journalists in the gallery. We also have a wealth of talent in Herald HQ in Auckland such as David Fisher, Simon Collins and Bernard Orsman. We'll be drawing on their talents, and the likes of James Ihaka and Jamie Morton in the regions.
Respected columnists Toby Manhire and Fran O'Sullivan will be heavily focused on the election, and cartoonist Rod Emerson's wit will be an integral part of our coverage.
Guest columnists will include the acerbic Cactus Kate from the radical right, former Labour candidate Josie Pagani and broadcaster Mark Sainsbury.
We'll also be working with our cousins from NewstalkZB, and Mike Hosking and Rachel Smalley will have occasional columns.
Parliament has just three more days of sitting this week. Then the phoney campaign will begin. It may feel like the campaign for a few weeks but nothing matches the intensity of those last few weeks on the hustings. We can't wait.
Let the countdown begin.
Audrey Young on the Herald team @nzhpolitics
I'm proud to lead the
's Press Gallery team. Among the six of us, we collectively have 61 years in the Press Gallery and 100 years in journalism. I have been in the gallery for 20 years and political editor for 11. We have a good mix of experience and youth. I love campaigns but they can be testing. My worst election campaign moment happened before I covered politics. I was sent to cover a press conference at Papakura in 1993 being held by Prime Minister Jim Bolger, Bill Birch and Paul East, on something I knew nothing about. I was mortified to find I was the only reporter there. The press conference went ahead and, remarkably, lasted a good 15 minutes. It was a good lesson: always be prepared.
John has a special place in NZ political journalism. He is the most respected commentator in the Press Gallery, among both peers and politicians. What he says matters a great deal to politicians but he doesn't write with them or their acolytes in mind. He is always focused on ordinary readers and voters and providing them with insightful commentary to understand politics better. The first campaign he covered was in 1987, the middle of the fourth Labour Government. Last year, he was the Canon Columnist of the Year.
deputy political editor
Claire has a growing reputation as a fine writer as well as being a fine reporter. Those who follow her work will already understand her special brand of wit. She is the best sort of journalist - one who can turn her hand to anything - hard news, features, colour writing and commentary - and you will see it all over the next couple of months. She recently co-authored a 10,000-word biography of David Cunliffe for the Weekend Herald. In 2012, she was named Canon Best Politics Feature Writer for a similar exercise on Phil Goff.
Adam worked as a business reporter for nine years and covered the finance company meltdowns, then the banking and finance industry during the Global Financial Crisis. He moved to the Press Gallery in 2010 and made his mark with detailed coverage ranging from the Bronwyn Pullar ACC saga to the National Government's asset sales programme. He compiled the Herald Porkometer, which we have revived today, showing National's and Labour's big election promises, and he will be updating it regularly. In his spare time he plays in a disco-funk band called the Deville Brothers.
Isaac is the newest member of the Herald's Press Gallery team. He joined us in 2012 from the Herald general staff where he was environment and science reporter. Highlights of his time in the Press Gallery have included covering the same-sex marriage bill through all its stages last year, and covering John Key's trip to the Antarctic.
Derek Cheng has recently rejoined the Press Gallery team to boost our election coverage. He covered the 2011 election with us but, shortly after, left to go travelling and climbing. The great heights he has scaled in the past three years have included peaks in the Himalayas, the Bugaboos in Canada and the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
Nicholas is the Herald's education reporter and will be part of the election unit in Auckland. He first made his mark as consumer affairs reporter where he did an investigative series based on the sale of legal highs to schoolchildren. He does a lot of trekking around Auckland's west coast and last year climbed to the base camp of Everest.
Brendan will be part of the election unit in Auckland with a special interest in the Epsom electorate. He trained in 2011 at Whitireia in Wellington before joining APN's news wire service APNZ, based in the Herald newsroom in Auckland. Outside of journalism Brendan enjoys cooking and motorcycling. He used to manage Scopa, a Wellington restaurant.