COMMENT:

The Prime Minister jetted off to New York last night. US TV interviews, meeting world leaders, a speech at the UN General Assembly. It's a packed schedule ahead of her. But, busy as it will be, baby and all, it's probably a welcome relief to get out of New Zealand.

The last month has been rough on the Prime Minister. A lot has gone wrong. Meka Whaitiri, Clare Curran, business confidence, criticism of the PM's solo plane trip to Nauru, Winston Peters repeatedly pulling the rug from under Labour.

Mostly, the Prime Minister has handled each issue with aplomb. But she was clearly under pressure. And a few mistakes gave that away.

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The PM pulled out of at least three long-form interviews, a week earlier pulled out of her regular Tuesday morning media slots and got herself confused over the meaning of the letters G D P.

In contrast to that, the upcoming week should be fun.

Jacinda Ardern is about to step into an arena where she is the star.

International media are falling over themselves to talk to her. There's so much interest, the PM's office has been forced to decline dozens of requests.

Only the biggest international names get through to Ardern. The New York Times. CNN's Christiane Amanpour. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The Today Show.

World leaders will no doubt also want face time with the PM. So far, few of them have met her. They'll be curious. And a photo with someone as cool as New Zealand's PM will do a lot to win over progressive voters in whichever country they come from.

It's possible that Ardern is more valuable to New Zealand right now than either Helen Clark or John Key ever were. Which says a lot, because both of them were excellent on the international stage. Clark was extremely competent. Key was extremely charming. But both of them were same-same. Just another world leader. Neither had the cut-through Ardern does.

Ardern has captured the zeitgeist of our time. A young, progressive leader. With a baby. Down-to-earth enough to buy her maternity wear from Kmart. Cool enough to DJ in her free time.

If you don't think Ardern's got it all over Clark and Key, just look at The Late Show. Key had to pay consultants thousands to get him on that show. Ardern paid no one. The Late Show called her.

If Ardern plays this right, New Zealand's cachet will go up. And if you want to know why it matters it's as simple as this: a nation's brand can sell a nation's products.

There's no doubt Ardern will play this right. Earlier this year, she charmed her way across Europe. She melted Germany's normally stern Angela Merkel, scored photos with the hip young leaders Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron and mic-dropped a cutting one-liner straight to Donald Trump's face.

Ardern clearly has plans to make this trip work. That's why she cleverly announced an increase in New Zealand's refugee quota just days before heading away. It'll give her just a little bit more world stage cred. It hands other leaders an easy way to congratulate New Zealand in front of others. Ka-ching goes our cachet.

Still, there'll be plenty to deal with when Ardern gets back. All those issues of the last few weeks will have taken little chips out of her government, her party and herself.

A few problematic narratives have developed. That Winston is calling the shots. That the Prime Minister doesn't understand business basics. And, more worryingly, that she can be economical with the truth.

But that's another week's problems. This week the plan will probably be to remind voters of her value.