It was somewhat akin to watching an actor making a second grand entry having fluffed the first one, but National Party leader Todd Muller's big 'who I am' speech was nonetheless a necessary and worthy effort.
Muller had chosen Te Puna Rugby Club as the venue, the club he played at when a youngster himself. His old coach was in the audience, as were his extended family and National Party supporters.
It is a good old-fashioned rugby club with a proud history, a disco ball hanging from the ceiling and an upside down tino rangatiratanga flag on the back wall, alongside a silver fern flag.
It is jokingly called the "fifth marae" of the Pirirakau hapu.
The walls carry photos of the club's rangatira [chiefs] and a framed jersey from the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
It was a far cry from the usual glitzy venues chosen for major National Party speeches.
Perhaps ironically, the club was built by Labour MP Kiri Allen's great grandfather on land gifted by her great grandmother. Her relatives extended warm hospitality – a powhiri, the kai after – but may have wished they had stinted on the sausage rolls after Muller's critique of Labour.
The first job of any new leader is to win over the party's own base. That was exactly what Muller's speech was aimed at doing.
In it, he pegged himself firmly in the line of descent from former Prime Ministers Sir John Key and Sir Bill English.
It had echoes of Key's description of himself as a 'compassionate conservative' and his own speech about looking after the 'underclass.'
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It set out a similar approach to cautious economic management, to the importance of welfare and the 'social investment' approach and spoke of tino rangatiratanga and how that fitted within National's own belief of self-determination.
He issued some promises: National would not cut benefits and it would not increase taxes – although later he would not say whether tax cuts were off the table.
It was aimed at reassuring those voters who supported National under those two men that the party was not that different under his leadership.
At one point he inadvertently took the Key comparison a tad too far – describing himself as the 'Labour leader' – before hurriedly correcting himself. Back in 2009 Key had made the exact same blunder in a major speech, referring to 'the Labour Party I lead".
Muller's aim was to try to blunt the line that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her colleagues have been pushing that "this is no longer the National Party of John Key and Bill English".
The second part of winning over the National Party voters was to have a lash at Ardern and those colleagues. He spoke of the pile of debt - $140 billion more –building up from Covid-19 and the prospects of second and third waves of job losses.
He questioned whether a party that could not even deliver its own KiwiBuild housing programme could deliver on the scale of the recovery that was needed.
He spoke a lot and with some lyricism about his own 'traditional' upbringing: the home-cooked dinners, the four brothers, the Catholic faith which was strictly observed by his parents, while the sons exercised some choice about which rules to ignore.
He even spoke about love, quite a lot. He said his father had been a gentle man who taught his sons how to love. He said of his birth in Te Aroha "I was born in a town called love".
His second aim was to try to build trust – a recognition that elections, especially in times of crisis, are won and lost on trust. "My job is to earn the trust of New Zealanders."
The party had tried to build a lot of hype around the speech. They certainly need some hype.
Muller's first weeks on the job have been more low-key than is expected for a new leader who needs to introduce himself to the voters in a hurry.
It has been three weeks since Muller was elected National's leader and after an initial flurry he has taken a very low profile approach – dangerously low, as former Labour leader David Cunliffe can testify when he was crucified by his caucus for a three day holiday.
Muller has disappeared from public view each weekend and surgery for pre-cancerous moles took him out of circulation for the whole of last week.
While the PM has also disappeared each weekend, it is not a luxury Leaders of the Opposition have.
His speech was a good enough attempt to get things back on track. But the man Muller did not mention in his speech – Simon Bridges – once called Ardern the "part-time Prime Minister".
If Muller does not keep up the momentum he risks having a similar tag thrown back at him.