As I started to write this week's column, it suddenly dawned on me that I have never written a word under any other government than the previous one.

What's it going to be like while writing under the influence of optimism? Will I still be able to perform? Or will I need the equivalent of a verbal Viagra to even feel the desire to raise my pen?

Once the disbelief phase passes, and the reality kicks in, I'm sure I'll be back kicking the political tyres hard but, until then, I'm going to just enjoy the moment. While it lasts.

Read more: Rachel Stewart: Kiwi drivers' attitude let loose behind the wheel with deadly results
Rachel Stewart: Trying to make sense of a world that is changing
Rachel Stewart: Life and pleasure from the warrior princess Lucy Lawless


I'm not naïve enough to think this feeling won't end. But, for now, I am drinking it in like an oak aged Kentucky bourbon on a winter's night by a roaring fire. The warm glow slowly infusing my body with a vague smugness and palpable relief.

Like many others, I've spent nine long years hanging out for the day we'd be released from the shackles of endless denials about the actual state of our country. It feels like we've had a break in the weather and can finally come in to land; feel grounded.

I'm going to ignore the rabid tantrums from neoliberal numpties about the election result being a "coup" and a "coalition of losers". Such medievals will fade into the blackness soon enough, and will be remembered for not understanding MMP. Or decency.

Even Bill English got in on the act after the long weekend. On Morning Report, he said "that's MMP" right before "but we got 44 per cent of the vote". You either understand MMP or you don't, Bill.

At this exciting infant stage of the new administration, I have one thing niggling away in the background that worries me. But, first, Winston Peters needs some honey. The man (and his party) changed the direction of this country forever, helped to usher in a new generation and direction, and had the political cojones to say the generally unsayable about capitalism. You know, that it isn't working for everybody. How radical.

So, what's the niggle? I'm mystified by New Zealand First's fawning over the rural sector - even after they have treated Winston with such loutishness and disrespect. Think Morrinsville. He turns up, having consistently championed their cause, and they boo and spit at him like cobras, and even manage to run over a NZF candidate's foot with Myrtle the tractor. Nice.

Yet, despite this treatment at the hands of - let's face it - both National and Federated Farmers, Winston appears to have managed to get Labour's water royalty taken off the table. That's fine. There will be other mechanisms to use to try and arrest water pollution. Although, speaking of capitalism, money has been the only effective motivator for farmers to change their ways.

Whatever the Government ends up doing - and one measure will likely be to strengthen the lax National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management - it will involve negotiating NZF's weird little predilection for coddling farmers.


The big mystery? Why does Winston go to bat for such an ungrateful bunch? I have theories about them receiving staggeringly bad advice from someone very close to them, but only NZF knows the answer to that. Let's hope they start to understand just how much Kiwis are demanding that our waterways be cleaned up, and why they voted accordingly. Because they did.

I also hope NZF understands that it is indeed dairy farming that is responsible for 80 per cent of water use in this country, and is the biggest contributor to water degradation too. No, don't trot out the go-to line about urban pollution being just as bad. Urban waterways account for less than 2 per cent of all waterways in New Zealand, Get that through your head, people. They are bad, but not THAT collectively bad.

Anyway, that niggle aside, I wish the new Government well. National will be a formidable Opposition, and it will not be an easy ride. My hope is that the misogyny train will derail, and folks will start talking about Jacinda's talent and political nous rather than her body parts, but I'm nothing if not a realist.

New Zealand's a great place to live if you can cope with an abundance of meathead males. Being born into it helps, but I do fantasise about the day women become more than their usefulness to men.

Forward to the future we march. National's last nine-year incarnation is behind us. Time to start picking up the pieces of their legacy. Increased inequality, homelessness, child poverty, housing unaffordability, environmental breakdown, ponytail pulling - there's work to do.

Do I sound smug? Like a bad winner? Sorry, but they've had their turn. Now it's ours. Give us this. Just for a day or two.