When Labour and New Zealand First entered their political marriage in October 2017, it was for better or for worse, and we are now seeing "the worse" for one partner.
It not surprising that the smaller party in the Coalition is the source of most of the grief.
Given the proclivity of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters for secrecy and its track record on donations, the secretive New Zealand First Foundation donations vehicle is a recipe for trouble.
If there is any upside for New Zealand First, it is that attention has shifted from Shane Jones and who he has been seeking votes from, what he does with guns on holiday, who he has been calling rednecks and who has been after the money in his Provincial Growth Fund.
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But Helen Clark was right: New Zealand First's current donations scandal – if it can be called a scandal at this stage - is not like the 2008 one in a number of important ways.
The first is Peters' disposition, the second is Labour's involvement and the third is timing.
So far, this time Peters appears to have retained his equilibrium – although there may be plenty of time for that to change.
In 2008, Peters' response to the mounting questions about whether he had engaged in deceit over donations compounded the damage. He was not only a man under siege, he behaved like a man under siege.
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He saw conspiracies everywhere, including in the Serious Fraud Office itself, he lashed out, he was perpetually angry and the party's polling of 4.07 per cent in the election was surprisingly high given the circumstances.
This time, Peters has been no more forthcoming with facts but he has been more constrained, relatively speaking.
His Trump-like tweet on Thursday suggesting he would "sort out the media" on his return from Japan sounded like a menacing threat given the cabinet is about to make some existential decisions about state-owned media. Or it could have been a joke.
For the first time ever NZ will attend the G20 Foreign Ministers' meeting, held this year in Japan. So we're off to try and sort out the world. When we get back we're going to sort out the media.— Winston Peters (@winstonpeters) November 21, 2019
His video tweet filmed before leaving for Japan was, relatively speaking, good humoured although Peters lecturing anyone about hypocrisy over donations is in itself hypocrisy in motion.
Peters has not only railed against trusts and the secrecy surrounding them but he does not have a blameless record.
There were no fraud charges in 2008 against NZ First after the SFO looked at the Spencer Trust, but the full statement of the director at the time, Grant Liddell, said it appeared laws relating to election returns may not have been complied with.
The revelation then of Owen Glenn's $100,000 donation for Peters' legal fees to Brian Henry over an electoral petition was completely separate and nothing to do with the SFO investigation into the Spencer Trust but was running concurrently.
But feeling the heat of two simultaneous scandals being played out through leaks and a public hearing, Peters could see his political career draining away daily and it brought out the worst in him.
Peters denied knowing about the Glenn money until July 2008; Glenn said Peters had solicited it and that Glenn had got the nod from Labour as its biggest donor to give it.
Glenn's version of events revealed in the full glare of a public privilege committee hearing was backed up by telephone and email records - which is why a majority of the committee found against Peters.
It was not a National kangaroo court as Peters continues to allege today. The balance of power on that committee lay with the MPs from the Greens, Maori Party and United Future.
But it was complicated because Labour was more involved – in the Glenn donation - than it is now with the NZ First Foundation.
Jacinda Ardern has been pilloried for keeping arms-length from Peters and the donations saga.
She has not played the tough-talking Prime Minister, the senior partner in the relationship who summons Peters to her office, demands assurances from him that he has acted ethically and lawfully at all times and then, to demonstrate her leadership, to tell the country she has received such assurances.
Ardern has strongly hinted that she has received private assurances from Peters in conversations but from her viewpoint, there is nothing to be gained by doing that publicly.
It leaves Ardern open to accusations of looking weak. But the fact is she rarely engages in displays of macho leadership and certainly never with the irascible Peters.
Ardern's opponents in National are trying to goad her into doing it for good reason; it would tie her closer to the New Zealand saga and it would bring the relationship between Labour and New Zealand First closer to friction.
It would also serve no purpose in the event that the Electoral Commission does not refer the Foundation to other authorities for investigation.
If Helen Clark were giving Ardern any advice, it would probably be to keep her distance and don't get involved in a murky saga which could go on for weeks or months.
Clark herself became unwittingly involved in the Glenn donation after Glenn privately told her and Trevor Mallard about it in February 2008.
Clark privately asked Peters about it then, and he denied it, saying in July that he had only just found out about it from his lawyer Brian Henry. Clark and Mallard had sat on that information for months revealing it only just before Glenn was about to give evidence to the privileges committee.
Clark said this week that NZ First's donations saga had nothing to do with Labour's demise at the 2008 election.
Who knows? She was involved enough in the saga to have publicly accused the SFO of leaking to National that it was about to start investigating Peters.
But the time that had played out, the election was upon them and they did not have time to recover against the fresh new face of John Key.
Unlike 2008, Ardern and Peters have time on their side if the issue is not referred to the Police or SFO.
Ardern has time to consider what her response should be – do nothing is not an option.
The revelations in Matt Shand's Stuff stories have undermined confidence in the laws regulating donations.
Even if it there is no technical breach of the law, the New Zealand First Foundation is undermining the spirit of the law. The foundation clearly works to defeat transparency.
The issue needs examination by a group without vested interests, and that means without political parties.