Simon Bridges' inner circle of political confidants is a lot smaller than Jacinda Ardern's but that is hardly surprising.

The Leader of the Opposition is running a small ship compared to the person running the country. Her inner circle is 12. His is just five.

What may be surprising, however, is that Bridges' forthright wife, Natalie, is very much part of it. She is a close political adviser in a way that few leaders' spouses have so openly been.

She is often with him on official occasions such as attending the party's regional conferences, the last one being tomorrow's northern