I am on my fourth cup of tea. I've missed taking the dog for a walk on Bethells Beach because I am still sitting here staring at a blank Word document, trying to think of something helpful to say about Saturday's election result. Sorry dog. So far, I am failing.

It just seems so infuriating that we end up with smug Winston Peters holding the country to ransom yet again. There doesn't seem to be anything relentlessly positive to say about that.

So where are we exactly, here on Sunday morning? I know this has been said before, but maybe it is worth repeating. National got the highest number of seats, but that does not mean they will necessarily form the government.

Constitutional Law expert Andrew Geddis has said in no uncertain terms: "No one has first crack at forming a government." There is no convention saying Winston Peters should talk to the party with the most votes first. Or that the incumbent has any right to lead the process.


"There is no law, constitutional convention or other constitutional rule as to who talks to whom following the election or the order in which people must talk to each other. There's no reason anyone should be confused about this - the Cabinet Manual sets out the process quite clearly," Professor Geddis told the National Business Review.

From my little corner of the world, and admittedly I probably do know more than my share of luvvies and oddbods, I think it is fair to say most people I know do not feel uplifted by the prospect of a fourth-term National government with Winston Peters in a position of power.

Sometimes it feels like we have become a nation of real estate agents. That is not the kind of country I want to live in, where to use Oscar Wilde's phrase, we know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

I don't want to be proud of our country's economy. Actually that's not quite true. I know we have to pay our bills, but I would be more proud of our economy if it was not mainly driven by house inflation. And I would prefer to be able to say I am proud of our character, our creativity, our compassion, our environment, our diversity, our commitment to egalitarianism.

Sadly, none of those things got much of a thumbs up on Saturday night.

It might have been a good election for real estate agents, but it was a sad result for people who are not middle New Zealand or "mainstream".

I feel sad for Maori. It feels like a profound loss that there is no Maori Party in Parliament. That is not even considering Winston Peters' threatening to do away with the Maori seats. The voice of Maori needs to be heard. I hope the Maori Party will rejuvenate itself. Keep going.

I feel sad for teachers. So many of them are doing an amazing job in spite of an education environment which does not seem to value anything that can't be measured. They struggle on in a frustrating system in which testing is more important than learning and in which creativity and the arts are not valued. Especially teachers who deal with special needs kids. Which is all of them. Please keep going teachers!

I feel deeply sad for people who work with addictions and mental health issues. Despite our appalling suicide statistics - and there is actual hard data on that, you accountants out there - mental health has not been a priority for this National government.

There are so many examples. The father of two who committed suicide when he was told he would have to wait three months on a waiting list for help. A Wellington youth clinic had to turn 800 people away because a lack of funding means it cannot take any new clients. In the Bay of Plenty there is a crisis with no addiction services. Friends who work in this sector say their funding has been axed although demand for their services is growing. They don't see a hopeful future. We need you. Please keep going too.

I feel sad for the arts community. Arts and culture were barely mentioned in the election campaign. On The Spinoff's online feature which set out all the parties' policies it didn't even warrant a heading. Total public expenditure on culture was $598 million in the most recent figures I could find, which were ages ago (1999), but I don't think the budget for the arts has gone up much since then. The figure for arts, culture and heritage in the 2017 budget was $318 million for the current year. The French ministry of culture has a budget of US$10 billion ($13.6b). In Sweden the Government spends 2.6% of its central government spending on culture. Australia's expenditure on the arts was US$7b. Our arts are what makes life worth living.

I could go on. But now I feel sad for my dog, who really needs a walk. Good girl. Let's keep on going.