In 50 days' time, give or take a week, when Jacinda Ardern heads off to have her baby, it would give her peace of mind to know that all her ministers were performing competently and the Government had set a steady course, away from dangerous deviations.

After a turbulent March, the events of the past fortnight have restored a sense of composure to the Government - although that has in part been through priceless images from the PM's travels abroad.

But the past 50 days has shown that she cannot rely on all ministers to handle difficulties in their portfolios well, although there have been some pleasant surprises among her appointments.

A couple of low-ranked ministers, Kris Faafoi outside cabinet, and Iain Lee-Galloway in cabinet, have really shone in their diverse portfolios.


Lees-Galloway was reasonably well prepared for immigration and workplace relations, having been spokesman for both while in Opposition.

He was a clear champion of unions' agenda in Opposition but has won some respect from employers in the transition to Government, grappling with the 90-day trial issue and the Hobbit law.

His big test is yet to come when legislation setting minimum standards across some industries is introduced. But he has given every indication of recognising the importance of handling it well for his Government.

He has also been sure-footed on immigration, made fairly fast and fair decisions and importantly, been willing to front to the media on all issues at all times, even if it is to say he doesn't know much about a particular problem but will be finding out fast.

Faafoi, too, a former TV reporter, has been active and sound in diverse in portfolios for which he did not have preparation in Opposition, Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Civil Defence, and has been highly visible.

Tracey Martin is New Zealand First's best performing minister and showing why Ardern had the confidence to make her Children's Minister which, in other circumstances, is the job Ardern herself would have had.

One of the ministers who are likely to come under the close watch of senior colleagues is David Clark with Health. It is a fraught portfolio at the best of times but it is not clear yet whether he has the political skills to handle such a crucial portfolio.

The "sewage in the walls" at Middlemore Hospital seemed like a gift to the new minister from a supposedly negligent previous Government.


But it has rebounded on him with both the CEO and the board chairman disputing what he was told about leaky buildings.

In the grand scheme of things it is a small thing and the cheque has been written for remedial work. But the Government, despite its promises for an average $2 billion extra a year, has exactly the same problem as the last Government – there is way more demand for it than funds.

A review of the fundamental structure of the health system is being contemplated, one review that wasn't promised but may be the most worthwhile.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Housing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford have been the exemplars in how to sheet home every problem to the former National Government, whether it can be justified or not.

Robertson is Ardern's closest confidant and most trusted minister. Twyford is the man with a plan for Housing and Transport which he is rolling out. He arrived in office with a plan and perhaps was the most prepared of any minister.

They are part of her informal kitchen cabinet along with Chris Hipkins, Megan Woods and Kelvin Davis.

Andrew Little and David Parker are also highly trusted as ministers of sound judgment with difficult portfolios.

Some ministers have been highly visible for the wrong reasons and created major distractions from the Government's agenda, namely Clare Curran.

A short sharp crisis with a minister is easier to with. It is the protracted ones that linger on for weeks and months that are debilitating and corrosive.

It is difficult to see Curran being anything but a slow-moving target for the Opposition. From her coffee meeting on December 5 with former broadcast Carol Hirschfeld, the Opposition has made hay with written parliamentary questions, oral questions, OIAs, select committee hearings, and yesterday's 27-page report into the recall of RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.

When it comes to Shane Jones, part jester, part genius, dealing with the visibility problem is more complex because he is effectively No 2 in the party that put Labour in power.

He behaves with impunity because he has impunity.

He is carving out a role for himself not just to be "a champion of the regions" but to be a "maverick for the regions" hence his go at Air New Zealand for cutting some regional flights and, this week, on "bantam bureaucrats" whom he blames for slowing down decision-making.

His call to have political appointees running departments and ministries produced a sharp rebuke from the usually Labour-friendly PSA against Jones and the Government.

The weakness of such a system is being played out in Washington where a change in Administration will see 4000 politically appointed jobs up for grabs.

The strength of the New Zealand system has been evident for the entire six months of the Government's life in that a stable and neutral public service has been able to keep the country running and quickly unexpected implement policies from an unexpected Government, such as free tertiary fees on January 1.

Jones attack on the bureaucracy may be setting up a scapegoat for election year when many of the projects he is funding with the annual $1 billion provincial growth fund won't be finished – or possibly even started.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is the only person who can bring Jones into line - though that is not looking likely. Peters seems perpetually entertained by Jones rather than concerned by him.

Peters' own performance as a minister has been occasionally questionable but in his duties as Ardern's Deputy Prime Minister by and large he has been very good.

He has not overstepped his role, and has given her the support and space to become the sort of leader she wants to be. Whether he gives her peace of mind in 50 days is yet to be seen.