Best bodyguard:

Jacinda Ardern's hipster bodyguard Iain broke the internet but he was a bit of a cold fish. Bill English had a Maori guy who carried a kind of Willie Apiata vibe - you could imagine him in the deserts of Afghanistan, twisting the beard of some Taliban psychopath - and was also a pleasant, laidback dude. But the nicest of the lot was Cam, who worked for Ardern; the most alert of all the DPS guys that I observed, he was also the friendliest. I'd take a bullet for Cam.

Best shoes: I saw the best pair of shoes on a New Zealand election campaign since the amazing snakeskin winklepickers modelled by Bryan Sinclair, who ran black ops as a special adviser to National leader Don Brash in 2005. Once again it was a National pair of feet. They belonged to Bill English's press secretary Cameron Webb and they were shod in a really beautiful pair of black patent leather shoes from Hannah's. They sparkled in the sunlight and I coveted them so much that I idly wondered about killing him and taking his shoes. But I shelved the idea as a bit extreme. Besides, they weren't in my size.

Best TV political editor:


Patrick Gower kind of went AWOL this election; he animated election 2014, was hilarious and irrepressible, but seemed to operate on a pretty low gear these past few weeks. It was as though he discovered maturity. Corin Dann stepped up and became the one to watch. He was calm, assured, brainy, in possession of all the facts and capable of lightning analysis. Also, you should have seen him in the stand-ups! He was like a gunslinger. His habit was to stand sideways with his feet wide apart, then turn to face either Ardern or English while chewing gum and looking at them with an expression of magnificent disdain.

Best newshound: Newshub hound Jenna Lynch's hot pursuit of Green black sheep Metiria Turei at the Otara markets made for spectacular viewing and made me so very, very proud - I mentored Jenna at the Wintec school of journalism and always knew she had the potential to make someone's life a misery.

Best press secretary: Sean Plunket. Without him, Gareth Morgan's campaign would have been a shambolic, offensive, hopeless mess; with him - oh hang on I'll get back to you on that.

Best sign that New Zealand is the greatest country in the earth: One morning I was tootling through the brown and pleasant fields of the Bombay Hills, following Jacinda Ardern on the campaign, and arrived in Pukekohe, where a woman was sweeping the pavement with a plastic hearth brush and tray.


Best town drunk: Hamilton drunkard Christopher Kennedy ("My friends call me Sir Drinkalot") appeared smashed at Jacinda Ardern's early morning public address at the Meteor Theatre. "What about the f*****g real estate agents!" he roared, apropos of something in his head, before the DPS stepped him out.

Best table tennis opponent:

Many will remember the 2017 election as the one where I challenged party leaders to a game of table tennis, and wrote about it in thrilling instalments in the

Weekend Herald

. I slayed David Seymour. I annihilated James Shaw. I killed Andrew Little. I exterminated Peter Dunne. I buried Jacinda Ardern. I lost only one match, to the cunning, determined co-leader of the Maori Party, Te Ururoa Flavell. Respect to you, O matua Flavell! As for you, Bill English, your refusal to play to me will always be a badge of what I call your essential cowardice.

Best family member in politics: My daughter Minka, 10, got voted in as prime minister of Room Five in the political election held at Rutherford Primary School in Te Atatu this week; Kelvin Davis, who might be rewarded with the lesser role of Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand on Saturday night, came up to me on the campaign trail at Te Puea Marae, and said, stunningly, "Your father married my grandmother's half-sister." Cuz! Good luck this weekend.