Laila Harre first hinted at problems when she alluded to "a special guest" who may or may not show up for The Moment of Truth.
People were expecting a video link with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, but technical difficulties had apparently placed large question marks around his participation.
This only created a high sense of anticipation - perhaps even anxiety that the star attraction would be a no-show.
And then the huge blank screen at the Auckland Town Hall suddenly switched to reveal Edward Snowden, smiling, looking relaxed in a black shirt and dark blue jacket. There were cheers, whistles, foot-stomping, as the packed audience rose to its feet.
And Snowden didn't disappoint. He was humbled by the crowd reaction - which was reportedly so large that people were turned away. He spoke at length and articulately about his own experience with New Zealanders' metadata while he was working at the US's National Security Agency.
He almost let too many secrets out. One way the NSA intercept communications is via internet cables, and another is ... "we'll leave it there". The NSA have facilities in Auckland, one in Northland ... and we better leave it there.
He spoke about high levels of surveillance. Emails, websites, Facebook friends, phone calls.
Earlier, Glen Greenwald said he was amazed at the names that John Key had called him. Henchman. Loser.
It's not everyday you get to say that you will not sink to the level of the head of state, he mused. New Zealand should be proud of a leader who has "completely unburdened himself" of dignity or statesman-like behaviour.
The crowd lapped it up. They stood and cheered. It was a reaction that was repeated throughout the night.
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