One of former Prime Minister John Key's most formidable skills was in getting rid of unwanted MPs tidily.
He clearly did not leave a manual in the ninth floor desk for PM Jacinda Ardern as she contends with the departure of Louisa Wall and Wall's blunt assessment of why her time was done and why she had not risen further in the ranks.
If Labour had hoped an agreement for a high list slot in 2020 and the arrangement of a custom-built role for Wall as a gender equality ambassador for the Pacific would be enough for Wall to quietly exit stage left, they did not know her well.
Wall revealed in a series of interviews over the weekend that Ardern had told her she would never make into Cabinet and that Ardern had also made it clear she was not wanted in caucus.
Former National MP Tau Henare tweeted that when Key told him his time was up he had simply accepted it and gone. The same was true of former ministers, Phil Heatley and Kate Wilkinson. They were moved on not because they were incompetent but because they'd had a go and Key wanted to make room for others.
They probably grumbled to their mates, but not publicly or widely.
The difference with Wall is that when she was asked why she had never made it to Cabinet or if she felt isolated in her own party, she answered.
It takes some bravery to do that: Wall would have known that she risked being seen as a disgruntled MP kicking up bobsy-die - and pitting her own word against the Prime Minister. She would also have known which side her colleagues would fall on.
It is worth noting Wall did not criticise Ardern or her leadership. She simply set out what she believed had happened, said she accepted Ardern's decision not to put her in Cabinet – and got on with doing what she could as a backbench MP.
That turned out to be quite a lot – and that was the reason for the questions about why she was never made a minister. In fact, one of the reasons Wall could be so outspoken as an MP was possibly because she knew she had no chance of getting into Cabinet, so had nothing to lose.
Ardern could hardly get into a tit for tat by arguing the points Wall raised and putting her own version of events up.
She did make it clear there was another version of events, however, noting slightly ominously "I don't want to do or say anything that detracts from Louisa's 14 years."
She would not say why Wall was never going to be a minister. She stuck to saying that Wall had been treated with respect and went with Ardern's best wishes.
Of course, while leaders tend to keep themselves out of the mud pit, there are always loyal supporters willing (or dispatched) to try to protect the leader from any harm.
Labour supporters on social media immediately started trying to rebut or discredit Wall's comments. Others also had quiet words with media about Wall's manner and how things rolled out. Former President Mike Williams also spoke out.
Wall said she had felt on the outer because she had backed David Cunliffe as leader back in 2014. Ardern has denied she held a grudge for this, and other Cunliffe supporters are now in Cabinet.
The thing that aggrieved Wall most seemed to be the handling of the Manurewa selection in 2020, in which Wall almost took legal action over the late entry of the eventual winner, Arena Williams.
Wall considered Labour's head office had interfered in the contest to ensure Williams was selected and Wall was not – it was only on this matter that Wall said she did not believe Labour had stuck to its principles.
Others in Labour have told the NZ Herald that Williams was only brought in once it became clear Wall was not going to win the selection in any case.
She had apparently been outflanked by her old foe Ian Dunwoodie, who had secured enough support to take it in a head-to-head against Wall. It was only after that became clear that Labour parachuted Williams in to block Dunwoodie's selection – hence her late entry.
All the hoopla has made things uncomfortable for Ardern, but it won't do her any real harm.
Popular Prime Ministers have a lot of power when it comes to rearranging their chess board.
Key's strategy was to ensure that he kept hope alive for the MPs on the backbenches by sporadically dispatching sitting ministers to create spaces. It ensured the backbenchers were disciplined and worked hard to ensure they were top of mind the next time a reshuffle came along.
For the same reasons, the departure of Wall will not damage Ardern with the rest of caucus – not least because of their own self-interest.
It was notable that when Wall's departure was announced few, if any, Labour MPs marked it on social media.
Hope is still alive that they will one day be made a minister. Nobody dares risk being seen as being on Wall's side.