In the three days after last week's column, everything changed.
On Friday, the two accused of fraud over donations to the NZ First Foundation were acquitted after receiving permanent name suppression earlier that week.
While any material relationship between the NZ First Foundation and the NZ First Party is denied, senior party figures chortled that the Great Houdini of New Zealand politics had done it again.
As attention turns to the Labour and National donations trials in the High Court, NZ First has clear air to relaunch.
On the second day, Saturday, a show of force by Apostle Brian Tamaki and his flock closed Auckland's Southern Motorway. No charges had been laid by yesterday but investigations were ongoing.
Whether or not the Apostle gets another opportunity to play political prisoner, the protest symbolises efforts to consolidate various anti-establishment political movements under one banner.
Possible candidates to join forces with Hannah Tamaki's Vision NZ include the remnants of Colin Craig's New Conservative Party, now co-led by Ted Johnston and Helen Houghton; whatever is left of Jami-Lee Ross' Advance NZ and Billy Te Kahika's New Zealand Public parties; the Christian fundamentalist ONE Party that secured a creditable 8000 votes in 2020 and is now led by a triumvirate of Ian Johnson, Allan Cawood and Kariana Black; Sue Grey and Donna Pokere-Phillips' anti-1080, anti-5G and anti-vaccination NZ Outdoors & Freedom Party, which won a remarkable 1000 votes in the recent Tauranga byelection; Mark Ball's agrarian Heartland NZ Party; plus former National MP Matt King's DemocracyNZ and Andrew Hollis' New Nation parties.
In 2020, the six of these parties on the ballot secured 87,576 votes, or just over 3 per cent.
That's more than the 75,021, or 2.6 per cent, managed by NZ First.
In the unlikely event of a successful approach to NZ First to sign up, the new movement was over the 5 per cent threshold two years ago.
Crucially, that was before Groundswell's nationwide "Howl of a Protest" in July 2021 and the rise of the anti-vaccination and anti-mandate movement that culminated in the occupation at Parliament, attracting thousands of sympathisers over its 24 days and a Winston Peters walk-by.
Vision, the New Conservatives, ONE, Outdoors & Freedom and Heartland are all registered with the Electoral Commission, indicating a combined financial membership of at least 2500 eligible voters.
Some have access to substantial money. The party secretaries of all five have signed statutory declarations that they intend to fight elections.
Even without NZ First, if they unite under a common banner, the way five small parties did under Jim Anderton's Alliance in the 1990s, they would have a good chance of reaching the 5 per cent threshold and bringing at least one member of each party into Parliament, while maintaining their individual identities.
Presumably that would include one or both of the Tamakis plus, say, Johnston, Johnson, Grey and Ball.
Christopher Luxon and David Seymour face having to negotiate with this eclectic bunch to form a Government.
The prospects for stable government are just as dire for Jacinda Ardern.
The third major event was on Sunday, when the Greens' radical Green Left faction achieved its long-standing goal of removing Climate Change Minister James Shaw from the co-leadership.
Shaw will probably return next month. Nevertheless, the shambles reveals to the Greens' upper-middle-class voters in Herne Bay, Seatoun, Scarborough and Māori Hill that its kaupapa is much less immediate issues like climate change and cleaning up rivers than radical anti-capitalism and anti-technologism.
Former Green MPs like Catherine Delahunty and Sue Bradford put it best, arguing that true Greens believe natural resources are finite and soon to be exhausted, and that capitalism requires using up more and more of them, so will soon collapse.
Until capitalism does collapse or is overthrown, it and the new technology it enables will just keep causing ever-more dangerous environmental problems.
Addressing those problems without overthrowing capitalism is thus futile, because it will soon bring about worse ones.
As an example, the ozone layer was saved by 1987's Montreal Protocol. True Greens wonder if it would have been better had it not, so that capitalism and technologism could have been proven unsustainable and overthrown a generation ago.
Had they been, we would have avoided the current climate crisis and all be living in harmony with nature and with however many of us survived the transition.
Assuming Shaw is reappointed next month, Green Left will launch a new challenge against him at next year's AGM, just before the election.
It has learned lessons from last weekend's botched coup, including to have a candidate and key messages lined up in advance.
Nevertheless, its valiant effort has inspired disgruntled radicals back to the party.
They, and the unmasking of the Greens' true ideology, will drive away moderates. Green Left's influence will only grow in 2023 and beyond.
The Greens' shenanigans could be good for Luxon and perhaps Ardern if it cuts her coalition partner down to size.
But lying ahead is the worst economic downturn since the 1970s or 1930s.
Central banks, including our Reserve Bank, have recklessly debased their currencies, fuelling the worst inflation since it was successfully defeated in the 1980s and 1990s.
They and finance ministers, including our Grant Robertson, are yet to take the crisis seriously enough, with monetary and fiscal policy both still highly stimulatory. Inflation may already be out of control.
Inequality and elites' failure to listen to those who were the losers from globalisation — instead giving lectures about the massive net gains — caused Donald Trump's election in 2016 and perhaps his re-election in 2024.
In New Zealand, Robertson and Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr's loose policies enriched property owners by an estimated $1 trillion while further impoverishing low-wage earners and the very poor.
The economic and psychological impacts of Covid measures have crushed the dreams of a generation of young people who were never at material risk of serious harm, while conspiracism has flourished. Throughout the world, far-right and far-left movements are on the rise.
What better conditions for NZ First, or whatever worse monstrosity emerges on the right, and Green Left's anti-capitalist revolutionaries to attract new voters?
MMP then enables them to hold Luxon or Ardern to ransom.
Question for the daily media: is it best to ignore these extremist movements for fear of giving them a platform? Or is it more important than ever to bring to public attention the true nature of their agenda?
- Matthew Hooton is an Auckland-based public relations consultant.