Sometimes, karma can be tough.
Just as Jacinda Ardern departs tomorrow for another offshore swing to further cement New Zealand's security and trade agenda and promote the country as "open for business", along comes the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and delivers a serve.
During the peak of the Covid pandemic, Ardern could justifiably boast that New Zealand was "the envy of the world".
But now the EIU has knocked Auckland off its top slot in "the world's most liveable cities" rankings. Not just a peg or two - but a complete nosedive from first place to 34th. Wellington has also been slammed down from fourth place to 50th.
As the EIU explains, New Zealand was represented in the top spots last year largely because the border closed at the height of Covid-19, which allowed the country to mostly continue as close to normal as possible - especially compared to much of the world, where Covid had taken a heavy toll on liveability.
"Cities across the world are now much less liveable than they were before the pandemic began, and we've seen that regions such as Europe have been hit particularly hard" - the EIU observed.
August 17, 2021 was the turning point - a lengthy Auckland lockdown segued into multiple restrictions. Then Omicron arrived. Then widespread infection and a growing death toll.
Many had earlier marvelled that, in between the hard lockdowns, life went on almost as normal (apart from not being able to easily travel offshore, or get back in again).
Unlike Europe and the US, for instance, the virus was essentially trapped at the NZ border due to the managed isolation and quarantine system.
United States tech companies talked about sending teams down to New Zealand to get away from a depressing situation where many Americans were dying from virus
infections. Now cities in Europe and Canada are back in vogue.
Ardern can still deliver a good sales pitch to international investors and prospective tourists.
But politically, it has got tougher for the Prime Minister. Much tougher.
International markets have gone bear and recession looms. The rising cost of living and inflation are impacting. Employers can't get workers. Consumer confidence has hit the floor. Hospitals are under severe pressure. The winter flu is back with a vengeance.
New Zealand is certainly not alone in facing this perfect storm.
The fact many other Western nations are grappling with similar domestic economic issues means potential investors and tourists can take these concerns in their stride.
Then there is the Ukraine crisis and the international attempt by democratically aligned nations to deepen their own alliances and take a tougher stance on China.
This is a rich cocktail that will confront Ardern when she goes to Madrid - her first stop - for the Nato Summit.
Many Nato leaders will head to Madrid after first taking part in the G7 meeting in Germany, where US President Joe Biden intends to roll out further sanctions against Russia and step up pressure on China.
The G7 and Nato countries are expected to take a harder line on China following what they called "increasing" economic and security threats in the past year, US officials said ahead of the back-to-back leadership meetings.
This is the first time New Zealand has been invited to the Nato Summit - along with Japan, South Korea and Australia, who are all part of the US-led Indo-Pacific formation.
Ardern's attendance is not without risk when it comes to New Zealand's independent foreign policy stance.
Her agenda turns to trade when she moves on to Brussels to lend her prime ministerial weight to push the lengthy European bilateral free trade agreement negotiations to a conclusion. If that deal does not meet with acceptance by the Kiwi dairy and meat lobbies, that will flow back into more domestic pressure from the agribusiness sector.
She will then move on to London for talks with British PM Boris Johnson and some agreeable mutual back-slapping over the UK-NZ free trade deal cemented this year.
It doesn't end there - there is also Australia for a business mission and then on to Fiji for the Pacific Islands Forum.
These offshore missions Ardern is leading are not all beer and skittles as her opponents like to insinuate.
The Australian mission starts in Melbourne, then moves up to Sydney for more business-related activities before the two-day Australia New Zealand Leadership forum (also in Sydney).
Expectations have been raised that a planned meeting between Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese may result in some fine-tuning of Australia's 501 deportation policies. If so, it is likely to be at the margins.
Businesspeople will get an opportunity to judge the atmospherics when the two prime ministers hold a "fireside chat" at a formal dinner during the forum.
These Ardern trade and business missions are big on PR compared to former Prime Minister Sir John Key, whose missions had a strong transactional component.
There has been some business cynicism over the style of Ardern's tours.
Essentially, they are positioning New Zealand as poised to be "open for business" again with the full reopening of the borders due on July 31.
But she will have to ensure that business mission members in these sojourns get results that go far beyond window-dressing.
Ardern has yet to lead a business mission into China - New Zealand's biggest trading partner.
The mosque terrorist attack in 2019 put paid to a mission that was planned for the early part of that year. China also closed its borders in 2020 due to Covid and incoming businesspeople have to first spend a significant time in MIQ.
Something will have to be arranged next year.
It hardly seems credible to leave NZ's major trading partner off the PM's dance card.