Todd Muller, a faithful Catholic, did not have time to go to church on his first weekend as the new leader of the National Party.
He laughs when it is suggested that surely his rather brutal leadership coup of Simon Bridges had racked up a long list of items for the confession booth.
"I'm sure that over my life there's a long list. But hopefully we don't have to go through it."
His first vow after he was elected was one of abstinence: he pledged he would abstain from reflexive '"opposition for Opposition's sake". He would talk about "what was right for families, not what was wrong about the Government".
Vows of abstinence are apparently quite hard to keep because since then Muller has had a merry old time getting stuck into Labour while PM Jacinda Ardern was away and not able to defend it.
He repeatedly used the line that Labour had failed to deliver on every metric it set itself before it came into Government – from child poverty to Kiwibuild.
When it came to the tourism portfolio, Labour's Kelvin Davis "does not seem to be present both physically or mentally" at a time of crisis.
Perhaps his best line, and most repeated, was that the Labour-led Government had three or four good people around the Cabinet table – but 17 empty chairs beyond that.
In an interview with the NZ Herald, Muller listed those three or four good people he was impressed with in Labour.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is there, needless to say. He said Ardern had texted him to congratulate him, and to ensure he had her phone number.
Todd Muller's new-look National, Simon Bridges to continue in politics
Claire Trevett: The Nat and the Hat - rating Muller's first days as leader
Exclusive: Todd Muller rebuffs Bridges' request for top role
As for the others, take a bow Andrew Little, David Parker and "at times" Grant Robertson – but not a very big bow.
Muller said he had always thought Little was "a solid performer", "even though I disagree with aspects of his politics". Parker was "so flawed" in his approach to water policy but "a guy of some capability."
Robertson had "at times been the sort of contributor I would have expected when I first met him as student president 30 years ago".
Muller's own new line-up came on Monday morning after a weekend of phone calls to MPs to work out who was in and out.
It was a deft reshuffle – keeping core Bridges loyalists happy, not over-rewarding his own supporters and treating Paula Bennett with sufficient respect to avoid bad headlines.
It was, Muller admits, a period in which "it was not all sweetness and light".
"Transitions in leadership are always tough."
"But we have a lot of talent to choose from and in the caucus context I think that's going to be one of the key points of difference.
"When we come to the election in 120 or so days, it's not only who has the best vision and plan for the recovery, but who has the best track record in terms of capability and people who are able to deliver.
"I think on the latter point, we are standout relative to the Government."
Now that the people thing is done, he can get on with the vision and plan part of that recipe.
Asked what his vision is, Muller responds by quoting a line of poetry.
It was from Alan Curnow's Skeleton of a Giant Moa, and he does not get it quite right – he was remembering from university days some 20 years ago – but he is close.
"There is a line in an Alan Curnow poem, which says 'not I, but some child born in a wondrous year will learn the trick of standing upright here.'
"I have always been fascinated by that. I studied it at university, though I don't think I've got it quite right in the re-telling."
The line in question should read "Not I, some child, born in a marvellous year/Will learn the trick of standing upright here."
He said he saw that line reflected in his own view that New Zealand was a country with a "unique sense of space and place that had not quite stood up to its full height or capacity".
Every leader stamps their mark on the role by choosing particular priority areas - but Muller's reign coincides with the Covid-19 crisis, so his choice is forced on him.
The focus will inevitably be on economic recovery.
One of Muller's first steps was to give himself the Small Business portfolio – a sector he described as "the beating heart of this country".
"From my perspective when you look at the scale of economic crisis that sits in front of the country at the moment, it is an absolute focus of mine that we look at every avenue to be able to help small businesses to get up off the canvas and back into it. That is my number-one priority.
"We are at a time when high ambition and lofty rhetoric, while nice, does not actually help secure a job."
Asked whether his answer would be different if Covid-19 had not come along, he said New Zealand's environment, place in the world "and comfort in its own skin" had long been a driving force for him.
He pointed to his background in agri-business at Fonterra and Zespri – industries that rely on New Zealand's image as environmentally sound.
"I've always had a strong sense of our trading relationships and that the uniqueness of this country is its people and its environment. I've always had a passion in the environment: it's a huge part of who we are as a people."
Muller, who led National's negotiating with Climate Change Minister James Shaw over the Zero Carbon Act, said that environmental focus would remain a focus in the medium term, and National's policies would reflect that.
"I've got an optimistic sense of who we are and what we can be if we invest in our people, and in our environment."
Muller celebrated his win with Indian takeaways from his local Pyes Pa takeaway shop. He had also been contacted by former leaders of the National Party, including Sir Bill English whom Muller has said he most admired as a politician. It is English he sees the most similarities with in terms of leadership style.
"The thing that struck me was how he rebuilt his career after a challenging period [in 2002], and just the way he could bring a whole-of-government approach to his thinking and drive the public service to deliver to that outcome.
"I've always been impressed with his work ethic, his demeanour and his relatability to people at a personal level."
He recalled going on "walkabouts" to meet people with English on the last campaign.
"They took so long because he was genuinely interested in people and their stories. And I am quite similar to that. I am genuinely interested in people's views, even if different from mine, and why they hold those views."
Muller's unchallenged run in the media ended on Monday when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned.
On Tuesday he will go up against her in Question Time for the first time.
He will not say what question he would like her to answer. Forewarned is forearmed, after all. But he does have another go at that restraint from saying what is wrong with the Government.
"I think the question that will be put to her by the people of this country is on what basis can she possibly suggest that her team have the capacity to be able to frame up an economic recovery across the scale of sectors and communities that have been impacted?
"When her track record [is viewed] across KiwiBuild, Corrections, light rail, you name it, they have not delivered against the rhetoric of 2017."
In media interviews on Monday morning, Ardern welcomed the somewhat double-edged compliment Muller had given her over her handling of the Covid-19 crisis so far, and pointedly also welcomed his claim he would not oppose for the sake of it.
But she bridled at his description of her Cabinet as including "17 empty chairs", saying she stood by her team of ministers and Muller's comments were purely politicking.
So he did at least get under her skin, even if just a little bit.