As far as election year openers go, Ratana was game, set and match to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Ardern arrived at Ratana Pa with a not-so-secret weapon: her daughter Neve.
She also came armed with NZ First leader Winston Peters who freed her up to be relentlessly positive by jabbing at National leader Simon Bridges for her, describing him as "like a badly bred dog barking at everything".
National Party leader Simon Bridges arrived armed only with futile optimism and a strange belief in the powers of Palmolive.
For Bridges - like his National Party forebears - there is almost no hope of getting votes at Ratana.
Bridges himself acknowledged this with a joke that he was aiming to double the National Party vote in the polling booth at Ratana Pa: from the one vote they got in 2017 to two in 2020.
But it takes more than a futile mission to stop Bridges. So he went anyway and decided to hammer Ardern for what she had delivered - or rather what she had not.
He told those at the pa that Maori voters had handed all the Maori seats back to Labour in 2017 - cutting out the Maori Party - and should expect some dividends from that.
He came up with an unusual metaphor to emphasise this: one that came back to bite him.
He said they should look at Labour's hands to judge how hard they had worked.
"They are soft like they have used Palmolive. What have [Labour] done for you, in the year of delivery?"
Ardern's real problem at Ratana was not baby soft hands or Bridges. Her problem was sitting right in front of her in a red dress.
On the paepae, Dame Tariana Turia watched on with her eagle eye.
In the lead up to Ratana, Turia and a coalition of Dames had gone to the Waitangi Tribunal to complain about the dispensing of Whanau Ora funds by the Government.
Just to make sure the point got headlines, she also claimed Ardern was "out of her depth" on the issue.
The timing would force Ardern to deal with it before fronting up at Ratana and Waitangi, places she had previously told Maori to hold her to account.
In her speech Ardern briefly raised it, saying she did agree that Whanau Ora worked - "and the rest we can work out."
But her real defuser was Neve - who very rarely accompanies her parents to public events, so was the centre of attention for the cameras.
There is something of an agreement that the media will not photograph Neve out and about - the exemption is if her parents take her to a public event.
A trip to Ratana was Ardern's first public outing after announcing her pregnancy in January 2018.
Ratana were also the first to gift a name to Neve - that name was Waru [eight] - a significant number for the Church.
Now Neve herself was back.
Neve, now an energetic toddler with quite some pace, hurtled about with two DPS officers keeping a discreet eye on her and Speaker Trevor Mallard hobbling behind her trying to keep up.
Her mother, meanwhile, was surrounded by well wishers and got a somewhat warmer welcome than Bridges.
In that regard, Bridges had also put in what appeared to be a pitiful plea for some love from Ratana.
He said he remembered coming to Ratana with former Prime Minister John Key, and they had liked Key because he was charming and amusing, and they had liked Bill English because of his integrity.
He stopped short of saying what he thought they might think of him.
So the NZ Herald asked some afterwards. The only comment was that perhaps he should have picked a different metaphor for Labour than soft hands.
What Bridges had not considered was that just after he said that he would have to go along the welcome line, shaking everybody's hands.
And they reported that his own hands were lovely and soft. "They were lawyer's hands."
Bridges did at least have a good comeback for Peters's description of him as a "badly bred dog", pointing out that cross-breed dogs had hybrid vigour and were healthier than pure-breds.