Like a big, intriguing Christmas package - or possibly a parcel bomb - the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has arrived and sits in the national living room waiting to be unwrapped. At least we are trying to wait. It is hard for those on both sides who decided long ago it was going to be great, or diabolical.
We are prodding and poking at the thing, seizing on any hints that drop from those who delivered it, though even our lead negotiator, Tim Groser, said he hadn't read it all before signing. We're waiting, apparently, for the Government to get a grasp of it before Jane Kelsey does.
The debate over this trade agreement has been more intense than any I can remember. My elderly father came home from Mass one Sunday most concerned about it. The priest had devoted his sermon to the perils of this pact with the devil.
It was then that I truly marvelled at the extent of Kelsey's achievement. It is one thing to have teachers and trade unions marching in the streets, quite another to persuade a church whose tradition of Christian socialism has long been averse to the slightest whiff of the hard left.
She denies the extraordinary campaign against the TPP has been all her doing. When Rodney Hide couldn't wait to read the agreement before jeering at her failure to prevent it, Kelsey replied on the Herald website this week. The TPP, she said, "became a mass movement because people understand this is not about 'free trade', but that corporate interests are seeking to remake global rules in their interests. The suggestion that doctors, parliamentarians, lawyers, and local communities, here and around the world, are dupes of myself and a couple of fellow-travellers beggars belief".
Then she added, "I take my role as a public intellectual seriously. For more than six years, at considerable personal expense, I closely monitored the negotiations. With a handful of others, I continued to attend negotiating meetings when they went underground two years ago, as the already inadequate 'stakeholder' process stopped without any explanation.
"Two books, many academic articles and conference papers, keynote addresses ... commentaries on leaked texts, opinion pieces, speeches and press releases, sought to give people some insights into what was happening behind closed doors.
"I stand by everything I have said about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement over the past six years (especially if it is quoted accurately). Once the text becomes public, it will become clear that some of the excesses were beaten back and opposition to the deal can take considerable credit for that, but many of the dangers that I and others pointed to are still there."
She is phenomenal. It takes rare perseverance to study a subject as dull as trade rules, and she is rigorous. But even she couldn't wait for the full text to be published before claiming partial victory. She is referring, no doubt, to the pharmaceutical copyright period and the exclusion of tobacco companies from the right of foreign investors to sue governments for acts that unreasonably hurt them.
The tobacco exclusion is a worry. There is no principle or consistency there, it is just politics. If too much of the package turns out like that, it will be a disappointment.
One chapter of the agreement, covering intellectual property, has already been leaked online. It appears to leave patent law much as it is. If the TPP has been a missed opportunity to improve the environment for IT innovation, it appears to make it no worse.
So what, really, has the shouting been about? "Democracy", they said. The investor-state dispute provisions were going to be undemocratic, a surrender of our sovereignty. Did they think investors should have no claim for damages if, God forbid, we ever elect a government that embarks on a programme of wholesale nationalisation without compensation?
The real motive for most, I think, was simply distrust of the present Government. It is telling that Jane Kelsey says it has been a six-year campaign. The TPP goes back much further. It was conceived under Helen Clark, as an extension of her Government's free trade agreements with Singapore, Chile and Brunei. Nobody protested at those.
Nor was there any concern that the Clark Government hoped the TPP would embrace the United States. Back then the US seemed to be making free trade agreements with everyone but us. The intense opposition came with the change of government.
Nothing else changed. New Zealand continued to promote a charter of better rules for trade and business everywhere. That is what should be in the package and we should be immensely proud. Open it.