When the bacon butties ran out after just 20 minutes, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to do better next time.

"We'll cater properly for Ngapuhi appetites next time."

The one thing that is certain is she fulfilled the Ngapuhi appetite for her time after five days.

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau spoke at the Dawn Service and observed New Zealand was a very young country with a very, very young leader.


"And that combination ... is going to be dynamite for this country."

She was told she had started off "on a very, very good footing".

It wasn't quite the status given to former PM Dame Jenny Shipley who returns to Waitangi every year and now lives in the area. Of her Tau declared "she's Ngapuhi now." But it wasn't a bad start.

Tau had sniffed the wind and what he smelled was a chance along with the bacon and egg wafting up the hill from the PM's barbecue breakfast.

The symbolism of that breakfast was hardly subtle. There was the "servants of the people" imagery of the PM and her ministers cooking on the barbecue for the people.

It didn't escape diner Leon Petelo Haiu who said of the apron-clad Ardern: "She's got a real servant heart - she's leading from the front with the tea towel and the tongs."

There was the "for the many, not the few" ethos Ardern espoused as she set out the distinction between her own barbecue for hundreds compared to her predecessor John Key's invited only audience at the Copthorne Hotel.

"We did not want walls to partition off who was able to come and join us this morning."

It was a slightly unfair characterisation of Key's breakfasts which were notable more for his Waitangi Day Address, a personal reflection on nationhood and always worth listening to.

By the time she left she had well and truly charmed a notoriously difficult audience in Ngapuhi.

But even Ardern conceded she had ramped up expectations. Her public addresses in the north were replete with buzzwords such as change, inclusion, and listening but even she admitted that was the easy bit.

One of English's most memorable lines in the campaign was "people can't go shopping with your values".

Ardern headed him off at the pass on Waitangi Day by admitting to the same herself, saying there was a lot of expectation around what she would do but what would matter was what happened to meet that.

If that does not happen, English's line will start to get traction.

And while Tau and those at the breakfast were won over, there was at least one person she still has to work on.

Te Tii Marae elder Kingi Taurua marched up to the Upper Marae to protest the shift of the powhiri from Te Tii. He was steered away by police.

He then told Te Karere Ngapuhi had been sucked in by Ardern - so much so that there would be no milk left for her unborn child.