So it begins, the hokey tokey dance by which the National Party decides its leadership.

The election process involves any number of people putting their names in, shaking it all about and then pulling them out again once they realise someone else is going to out-dance them.

As of last night, three had put their names in and at least three more had declared they were sitting to the side trying to decide if their knees would hold up.

The three on the floor were Judith Collins, Simon Bridges and Amy Adams: all former lawyers.


Those on the side were Steven Joyce, Jonathan Coleman and Mark Mitchell.

The first test was getting on to the dance floor.

Collins was the first. She put her right foot in. She announced her bid on Twitter at about 8.20am – early enough to get on all the main morning media.

She certainly shook it all about. For almost three hours she had a clear solo run – and she made the most of it.

She declared the biggest threat to neutralise was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. And she wasted no time in showing how she would go about it, painting Ardern as self-obsessed and "all about feelings".

The three National leader candidates Judith Collins, Simon Bridges, and Amy Adams all say why they should be the next National leader. / Mark Mitchell

Collins has never been shy of blowing her own trumpet and it was tooting like the whole brass band. She said "yes" without pause when she was asked if she would do better than Bill English would have.

She said National was facing "a war" and needed change. To win, it had to "have the excitement people need to even be interested in what we are talking about".

She definitely offered the excitement, but many in caucus are excitement-intolerant and may not be able to digest it.

She even took a stick to National's sacred cow – tax cuts – saying it was "not the biggest thing that people want" and she would review that policy.

Next out was Simon Bridges. He announced his bid the old fashioned way – by press conference.

He was so excited it was apparently an out-of-body experience. He referred to himself in the third person twice. "I'm focused on Simon Bridges!"

At one point he helpfully declared that "I am not Judith".

He also said "this is the party of Judith Collins". Then he added "this is the party of Nikki Kaye." That was by way of highlighting what a broad church the party was, rather than his bets on who would be the next leader.

He set out his credentials as if he was a coffee blend.

"I offer the right blend of both generational change, but also experience … All of that gives me the experience, the acumen, and the drive to do this job very well."

He then started talking about values (great ones) and ideas (fresh ones).

"Great values and fresh ideas," he said over and over, just before he too took the obligatory jab at Ardern for being all about values and no delivery.

He staged a Bill English style u-turn on gay marriage, but stalled before he could complete it. He said he would "probably" vote in favour of it if he could have his time over.

By way of mitigation, he said he could be progressive. The evidence of that was his campaign for electric cars.

Amy Adams outfoxed the lot of them. She chose the lawns in front of Parliament's library for her announcement.

She was the Al Fresco Candidate.

Her most cunning move was to bring supporters along with her. Nikki Kaye, Maggie Barry, Chris Bishop and Tim Macindoe all stood beside her, nodding as she spoke.

It was only four out of 56 – but it was four more than the others fronted up with. And they covered young and older, male and female, Auckland and the regions.

Adams pushed home the distinction between herself and her rivals. She was the South Islander raised in Auckland, the only one who could claim both urban and rural roots.

Rural roots matter in the National Party.

Adams too resisted from making grand vision or policy statements, saying that was for caucus.

Asked about her low public profile, Adams said she was as visible as she needed to be as a minister, but that would change if she was a leader. Translated: she was not a glory seeker.

There was one bonus to come out of the events for National. They had finally succeeded in supplanting Ardern on the front pages.

That's what it's all about, yeah.