The consensus is that the National Party needs consensus.
That's the message from a sample of National Party MPs, representing over a quarter of the party's caucus who spoke anonymously to the Herald about the party's leadership election, pencilled in for Tuesday.
The vote was sparked by the caucus' decision to oust Judith Collins as leader in a no confidence vote.
There's no rulebook for National leadership elections; the rules are set by caucus at each election, and, if they wanted, MPs could switch up the rules as it suited them.
MPs noted this election is unusual in that Collins was deposed in a no confidence motion, "unprecedented" in recent times - and possibly in party history. Leaders have resigned, been challenged and rolled, but no one spoken to could remember a vacancy left by the caucus dramatically deposing the incumbent.
This weekend, closed door discussions (many held online or over the phone) will be held to determine the shape of the leadership campaigns. With the entire caucus seemingly wanting consensus, there is pressure on anyone with leadership ambitions to stitch up the contest before caucus meets on Tuesday. If consensus is achieved before Tuesday, the caucus meeting would effectively anoint rather than elect the new leader.
Possible contenders have to weigh up their chance of winning the vote on Tuesday and their chance of winning the general election in 2023.
The only candidate to have effectively declared their hand is former leader Simon Bridges. Having openly contemplated a run at a press conference on Thursday, Bridges made up his mind and effectively declared his hand on Friday.
Bridges' brother-in-law Simon O'Connor, who verbally lacerated Collins in a round of morning media before she was deposed, is said, by other MPs, to be close to the Bridges bid.
Simeon Brown is also possibly drifting towards Bridges.
Most MPs see the contest as between Bridges and Luxon - a contest, that is, if Luxon chooses to contest it, which is not yet clear. If he does not, it looks like Bridges will have the numbers to prevail, but it is not a sure bet; as a former leader, he has enemies in the caucus who would like to see him lose (the first strategy for these people is to get Luxon to run)
Luxon himself is not talking, telling media that out of respect for his colleagues and the leadership process, he won't say anything about the leadership until after Tuesday's caucus meeting.
No one really knows how Luxon is weighing up his decision. If he runs early, he could torch his chances at being prime minister but, if he fails to seize this opportunity, there is a small chance may never get another.
Other leadership contenders like Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis are yet to make clear where their own bids will go, and whether they'll take their bids to caucus on Tuesday or allow themselves to be absorbed into another camp.
Bishop broke cover late on Friday, telling Newstalk ZB late on Friday he was "thinking about" a leadership bid.
One MP speculated that Bishop and Willis were drifting towards camp Luxon with former Collins supporters.
"Chris Bishop, I heard, is making phone calls [for his own bid], which may complicate things [with Luxon]," one said.
If Luxon does choose to contest, things could start to get messy. MPs formerly believed to be staunch Bridges backers are currently on the fence.
They see this as "Luxon or Bridges" contest which is a choice between Luxon, "a clean slate" with "reasonably high risk" as an unproven Parliamentarian versus Bridges who is proven, confident but potentially damaged goods.
These MPs are concerned Luxon might be inexperienced enough to have his career torpedoed by a battle-hardened Labour.
The Bridges pitch isn't necessarily anti-Luxon, but it plays on MPs' fears Luxon might not be ready.
If Luxon is ill-prepared, there's every chance Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson, each with more than a decade of Parliamentary experience behind them, could humiliate Luxon, neutralising the Luxon camp's best hope - there's no Luxon 2.0 waiting in the wings if it doesn't work.
One MP said that having been through the failed experiment of the Todd Muller leadership, the current National caucus is very wary of taking a gamble on someone they were not completely sure was ready.
They added that National's current financial position meant being leader was harder than ever, as the party couldn't afford the legions of Parliamentary staff it had even a year ago - the leader has to get how Parliament works, and then need to be able to do that on their own.
"A lot of it comes down to [the leader]," they said.
The sense of a need for a generational change is strong - both from new MPs, and MPs who have been around for much longer.
"We've got to realise the world moves on, and we've got to provide for the future," said one MP, adding, in jest, they would not be backing veteran MP Gerry Brownlee (who is not running for the leadership).
"We've got a lot of talented younger people in our caucus, that includes people who were around in the Key Government and some that weren't - they'll pick up the baton and run with it now," they said.
This sentiment was articulated by Collins herself in an interview in Newstalk ZB on Friday, effectively giving her backing to Luxon, Bishop or Willis (although the remarks could equally be seen as a signal she would back "anyone but Simon").
The no confidence vote has changed the leadership contest from a simple coup of one MP by another, to an open contest. Previously, challengers like Bridges would have to form a coalition from the party's factions to challenge and roll the leader.
With Collins gone, that's no longer the case, and the varying factions are free to cut deals between each other for the next governing coalition.
Liberal East Coast Bays MP Erica Stanford, who had been tipped as Bridges' possible deputy, as part of a joint conservative-liberal ticket, is now believed to be leaning towards Luxon.
Previous considerations of balance on the leader-deputy ticket, like having a male-female, urban-rural, and Māori-non-Māori have been unceremoniously jettisoned; Collins' profound unpopularity among women voters has convinced some that "diversity" on the ticket isn't the winning formula it's alleged to be, while others are simply desperate to a steady and competent pair of hands at the helm, regardless which identity group those hands might come from.
With Collins no longer in the mix, her former supporters are up for grabs. Understandably, they're less inclined to back Bridges, and are also behind Luxon.
Mark Mitchell, as ever, is neither in, nor out - but will likely rule himself out of contention, thanks to Bridges declaring his hand.
Most MPs said they would like the contest stitched up before caucus meets to vote on Tuesday. They also said some MPs needed to start setting aside their leadership ambitions if it was clear the caucus did not want them.
"We've got to put aside a whole lot of stuff," said an MP.
This list obviously includes Bridges, who is coming around for his second tilt, Mark Mitchell, who has had his hat in the ring (to a greater or lesser extent) in almost every leadership contest in recent times, as well as Bishop and Willis, who took a leading role in the Muller coup.
They said the party needed to choose one team, and stick with that team, urging some ambitious MPs to "put aside" their leadership ambitions once and for all.
One area of significant dissatisfaction is over the party board, whose job it is to provide stability and leadership to the administrative side of the party.
It's convention that the board and caucus tend not to comment on each other, each wing of the party looks after its own business.
But when Collins demoted Bridges allegedly with the "unanimous" backing of the board, she dragged the board into a caucus dispute - and issued a statement which the board later clarified to be incorrect in parts. However, President Peter Goodfellow only clarified the board's position after Collins had been safely dispatched.
Bridges openly criticised this on Thursday, but he's not the only one frustrated. With MPs saying it was "significant" Goodfellow only released a statement "after Judith was gone", adding it should have been done "first thing" Thursday morning.
"The party at large is going to sort that out".