If the signing of the prime ministerial warrant on Thursday was the full-stop on the 2017 election, Jacinda Ardern's triumphant return to Parliament after it signalled the start of the perpetual campaign to 2020.

The band stopped playing while Ardern's Cabinet stood behind her and she addressed the crowd about being a leader for all New Zealanders, about improving wages, healthcare and the environment and being an empathetic Government.

She occasionally looked down at a barely visible small post-it note in her hands which could have contained only three or four key words as mental prompts.

There is nothing wrong with that. She is an accomplished debater. Despite the informality of the event, it was highly planned. It was reassuring to see Ardern was leaving nothing to chance.


No one could remember whether John Key had received such a rapturous public welcome when he took over in 2008, which suggests he didn't.

But Key was less of a celebrity at that stage of his leadership, it was the middle of the global financial crisis and the sun may not have been shining as brightly as it was in Wellington on Thursday.

Thursday's show ended with chocolate box scenes of a couple of gorgeous nieces walking hand-in- hand with Aunty Cindy and Uncle Clarke Gayford up Parliament steps.

It was yet another amazing performance from Jacinda Ardern since being elevated to the top job by Winston Peters.

There has been a series of big decisions and announcements, including forming the Cabinet, finalising the cross party deals, taking a call from Donald Trump, speaking to the Council of Trade Unions, the swearing-in, hold the first cabinet and at least five press conferences.

She has not put a foot wrong. She has made it look easy.

A lot of it is down to her own talents and aptitudes. But she has also had some very experienced operators backing her up.

When you look at who they are, it is not hard to see why the transition has been relatively flawless.


Ardern's old boss, Heather Simpson, who was Helen Clark's former chief of staff in government and at the UN, has been helping out with the government formation on a temporary basis.

She has finished up at the United Nations Development Programme and has moved back to New Zealand.

A couple of other solid former Clark staffers, Gordonjon Thompson and Mike Munro, have been lending their weight in the leader's office.

Thompson, who went on to become Phil Goff's chief of staff in Opposition, prepped Ardern during the campaign debates, and is Ardern's acting chief of staff during the transition phase.

There is a swag of legislative work required for Labour to implement its 17 policy priorities in its first 100 days - by February 2 - and only limited sitting days to pass it.

The Speech from the Throne setting out the Government's priorities needs to be negotiated with partner parties and ministerial offices need to be set up.

Heather Simpson will be on hand to help ministers do that. The quality of staff in ministerial offices can make or break a minister when he or she inevitably comes under pressure during the coming term.

National has convinced itself that the new three-way Government won't last and that it is inherently unstable because it has three large moving parts, including the irascible Winston Peters and the uncompromising Greens.

It is probably confusing expectation with hope.

The Cabinet selections are largely orthodox and based on talent, not tokenism. And the New Zealand First and Green agreements are not radical documents.

In fact they are so non-revolutionary, National may have realised that its failure in the coalition talks was more about being unable to offer a vicarious rejuvenation for Peters' party in the way Ardern can than the quality of the deal.

Former Prime Minister Bill English was a sorry sight this week after the National Party caucus, held the same day the agreements were released.

He said the things he had to say as re-elected leader of a party trying to face defeat with dignity.

He said he was committed to fighting the 2020 election because every leader has to say that as though they mean it.

The moment leaders say they are not sure, they are doomed, as Andrew Little was from the moment he admitted he had talked to Labour colleagues about stepping down.

English says he wants to run a positive opposition. He emerged from the first caucus in Opposition and used the word 10 times in 10 minutes. But it's unnatural. National would be better to be silent than pretend to be positive.

It may be better to be outraged or acquire martyrdom than to feign positivity.

Despite the very successful start, the new Government will make errors, as Ardern did in the election campaign over tax, for example.

But the tone Ardern, Peters and Shaw have set this week also suggest that it may be a government of greater unity than National is banking on.

It could be harder for National to capitalise on mistakes than it was in the campaign.

Peters took it upon himself to try to normalise relations with the Greens this week with a visit to Shaw - their first meeting since the election campaign - and Shaw and Ardern are going to cut him a lot of slack.

Ardern took it upon herself to soak up any controversial questions about New Zealand First or the Greens at her joint press conferences this week.

She appears to be less the leader of a Labour-led Government and more the leader of a Labour-New Zealand-Green Government.

The more she embraces that concept, the more acceptance it will have in 2020.