With 100 days to go before the September 23 election, parties are getting their plans and messages finalised and getting their armies in place, reports political editor Audrey Young.
If the New Zealand election were the America's Cup, Steven Joyce's role would probably be comparable to Grant Dalton's, at least in terms of sheer experience, if not success.
He is not the skipper but he knows every moving part of the operation, start, middle and end.
Joyce has run National's campaign for the past four elections.
He is less inclined to be publicly announcing details of its campaign progress as Labour insiders did in a media briefing last month about the party's shoe-leather campaign.
Labour general-secretary Andrew Kirton said the party, by then, had conducted 50,032 door knocks or phones calls using a network of volunteers who were not necessarily party members but wanted a change of Government.
The updated figure, as of yesterday, was 85,400.
Joyce drops the language of Finance Minister and puts on his campaign hat as he talks about Labour's frankness.
"They've always talked up their book on their ground game," he says. "Actually these days everybody has to have a good ground game.
"Every election is like the America's Cup. We've got to turn up with something new and they've got to turn up with something new."
Kirton says that sounded like someone who didn't have as good a ground game as Labour.
"One thing we have learned from overseas is you've got to do it, and we can do it because we have got the mechanism and the volunteers, but if you don't have a good overall message and vision and sense of momentum then it can't be as effective."
That was where former British Labour leader Ed Miliband fell down in 2015.
"They made five million dials and door-knocks but told five million people something they weren't interested in. It has got to match with the messaging."
But Kirton says that having good conversations with voters could be worth 3 or 4 per cent.
While Joyce is the veteran campaigner he says parties have to ready for change and the conditions of this election will be quite different to the last one.
"You are seeing the continued evolution of social media; you are seeing the continued evolution of party positions."
And all parties, it seems, will be campaigning differently to take account of the steadily growing amount of advance voting, within two weeks of election day.
In 2014, almost 30 per cent of voters cast a vote before election day and this time, parties are anticipating that up to half of voters could do so.
That could mean a campaign of two halves and two climaxes, one just before two weeks out, which would normally be half-way through.
Party strategists have kept a close watch on the United States, French and British campaigns but all acknowledge the pitfalls in drawing too many parallels.
"The trick is working out what is similar and what is different," says Joyce.
In the UK where the Conservatives majority vanished in last week's snap election, it was still in the middle of austerity measures and it had the complication of Brexit, neither of which applied here.
"It seems apparent that for whatever reason the younger voters were probably protesting." There were a few obvious lesson from the UK election, he said.
"One, don't call a snap election and always be prepared to debate your opponent.
"But a lot of it doesn't translate," he said.
"The US has always been a struggle to translate because the Americans are much more out there with their campaigning than New Zealand has ever been.
"We are not as comfortable doing the rah rah on the streets as the Americans do on both sides of politics."
National will be revving up its supporters at the party conference at the end of next week but it is not saying when it will release its party list.
Labour has held already held its election year Congress and announced its party list.
New Zealand First has yet to announce its list and its conference is mid-July, on its 24th birthday.
The Green Party has announced its list and will be holding its election year conference the same weekend.
Green Party campaign director Sarah Helm is working from offices close to Wellington's Cuba St with an army of millennials helping to contact voters.
She paints a picture of a campaign that is well advanced and is more than willing to talk up its book, as Joyce would have it.
It has 30,000 volunteers it has used over the past few years and has 2000 active at present.
Last weekend the party conducted 7000 door-knocks or phone calls in 42 different electorates.
"We are very prepared," says Helm. "We are a lot more prepared than before and we have got stuff ready to roll out.
"We've got loads of content for online, we've got all the ground campaign already active, we've got places active that have never been active before."
Palmerston North and Whangarei in particular, she says.
Like Joyce, she is wary of drawing too many comparisons with overseas elections.
But she does suggest the leftist Bernie Sanders in the United States and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain have a New Zealand counterpart for voters looking for a new type of politics.
"We have some candidates who perhaps fulfill the Corbyn-Sanders type model.
"I think Metiria is probably closest out of our co-leaders if you were to choose."
Young candidate Chloe Swarbrick also had a fresh way of speaking and she believed Jack McDonald, also in his 20s, aspired to be a lot like Sanders and Corbyn.
Helm says the Greens brought on board the marketing agency Double Denim a year ago.
The agency had been involved in the successful campaign of Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.
It was a source of pride for Helm that it was a women-led agency, that the Greens had a woman campaign director and that six of its top 10-ranked candidates were women.
"That agency have gotten to know us, understand what we want to say and do this election and so we have our marketing plans largely in place," said Helm.
"We have to work a lot harder than the other parties in order to get coverage for a number of reasons, one of which is our budget isn't as big so we have to be cleverer."