For the past three days Helen Clark has broken with her long-standing ban on dawn starts to rise at 5.30am and hit the roads of Niue.
Waitangi Day and Anzac Day dawn parades have all been foregone in her despise of these starts. But in Niue, any later and it's too hot.
It's also the only chance the Prime Minister has had for exercise before a day spent in meetings with the other 16 Pacific Forum country leaders - bar one. The shadow of Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and his last-minute decision to boycott the meeting to explain his backdown from elections by March hung low over the forum.
Clark's mission in the weeks leading up to the forum had been to solidify a degree of consensus among other Pacific leaders to ensure a strong message could be sent.
From the moment she landed she worked to cement it and while Australian PM Kevin Rudd bunkered down with his officials in the Niue Dive Shop next to Matavai Resort, Clark took to the forum like a queen in her natural position.
Rudd, at his first forum and with the suspicion wrought by John Howard's reign behind him, seemed content to allow Clark to be on the front foot before he followed.
And Clark responded, despite the possibility she would have egg on her face if the forum eventually decided on a softer position.
But Clark is more canny and cautious than that. This is her ninth forum and she is now one of the longest-serving leaders there. She has seen the forum develop from a more informal talk fest to one that now acts when a member state has governance issues. She was also one of the driving forces behind the 2004 Pacific Plan - a plan to turn the talk into concrete action and get states to work together on projects.
But with an election looming, this may also be her last forum - right at the time it needs that experience most to travel the uncharted waters the potential suspension of Fiji has presented it with.
Clark's most valuable asset, according to others at the forum, is her ability to work a compromise.
Tongan Prime Minister Fred Sevele described her as "the bridge" when differences arose between Australia, PNG and the Solomon Islands.
"She was the mediating factor, the stabilising force in that time. I watched her at the forum in Fiji in 2006 when [PNG and Solomon Islands] leaders were not allowed into Australia to transit to Fiji. She was great, she kept the whole thing going."
Clark herself puts it prosaically - simply describing herself as "a good drafter".
"I don't know if it's because she's the only lady," says Kiribati President Anote Tong.
"But these are not lady ideas. One of the most critical roles has been providing that sobering element in times of strife. There's been disagreements and she seems to come up with a way out."
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has led his country since 1998 - and is the only other leader who has shared a place at the leaders' table throughout Clark's tenure.
Malielegaoi says the critical role she has played in the forum has been as an agent of compromise between what developed countries might demand and the Pacific way - a skill clearly seen in setting up the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands and again, more immediately, with Fiji.
"She takes a strong stand on issues that are raised at our meetings. But in an organisation of 16 member countries, you cannot expect unanimity of views on many issues. But whenever there is a divergence, she plays the right role of coming in with the right word to reflect the areas where compromise can be reached. She has that talent."
What were the most significant issues to emerge?
Obviously Fiji and the fact people unanimously wanted to address it in a forthright way was very significant. Another dynamic is that the new Australian Government, as its first action, ratified the Kyoto Protocol. So Australia has come on board with the climate change diplomacy that's emanated from the forum island nations and New Zealand for a long time. Those are probably two highlights.
Fiji has accused New Zealand and Australia of bullying tactics. Do they have grounds for that?
I think it's an insult to everyone who sat down round the table. There was unanimous agreement on what should happen and the leaders who have tried hard to personally engage, like [PNG PM] Sir Michael Somare and [Tonga PM] Fred Sevele are feeling very let down and considered his [Fiji's Commodore Bainimarama] non-attendance unacceptable.
There is the feeling that Australia, in particular, drove the suspension clause. Did you have any involvement and how long had it been on the table?
I've had the opportunity to talk to several forum leaders in the run-up to this forum, including chairman [Toke Talagi] on a visit to New Zealand, I went to Tonga for the coronation and saw Fred Sevele and talked to him.
He and I brainstormed on what could happen and there was a feeling that we needed another mechanism, beyond just a slap on the wrist.
I spoke to the Cook Islands Premier there and the Tuvalu Premier when he came to New Zealand last week, so I had been sounding people out as to how they felt.
And it became very clear the forum wasn't comfortable with him [Commodore Bainimarama] carrying on as he was without some other mechanism.
ON THE FORUM
What do the last week's events show about the forum's ability to deal with governance issues? Has it grown up in this respect?
I've been pretty impressed over the years at the way in which the forum leaders have risen to tackle issues like this.
The first forum I went to, in Kiribati in 2000 where the Biketawa Declaration [a mandate to deal with member countries that abandon democracy] was signed, was the first time the forum had ever said we won't look the other way from a troubled country.
David Lange came to forums in the 1980s when there had been two coups in Fiji and nobody ever spoke of it.
Things have moved on light years from there and you have a number of leaders now who have been through a number of elections and they don't support someone just declaring themselves Prime Minister and booting out an elected Government.
Other leaders have said you have acted as a mediator to come up with solutions, such as over the Solomon Islands and other areas.
I'm a good drafter. I can sense where everyone would be comfortable. It probably goes back to those years drafting resolutions for the Labour Party. Someone has to be able to put what people are feeling into words. You have to be able to say "well this would be a way to express that, here's a way through".
What are the landmark moments over your forum years for you?
Well, I think the Biketawa Declaration was important. There was the challenge of the Regional Mission [to the Solomon Islands] which the Australians were keen to do. We had to work very hard to see that it actually had a Pacific flavour.
It became a mission mounted really under the auspices of the forum, rather than just being an Australia/Solomons bilateral intiative. I think it was important giving a Pacific flavour to what has happened there. This forum has been pretty important too.
People have assessed the situation 10 months down the track and are appalled he [Commodore Bainimarama] didn't come, and they say "we can't just look the other way".
ON NZ-PACIFIC RELATIONS
Australia is richer and gives more money to the region. How does New Zealand make up for that?
They would be the biggest donor. But with the increases we have announced [the Government plans to spend $2 billion in aid over the next seven years] we will be second equal with the European Union.
So that gives us some clout. The other thing is we have made it possible for the demographic pressures in the Pacific to be relieved through migration and the quota system. That brings a lot of goodwill, as does the recognised seasonal employer scheme.
There have been calls from the small island nations that it should be easier to access aid funding and it should go on more action and less talk. Is that likely?
We are accountable to Parliament and the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General wasn't that kind on New Zealand Aid in the last year. New Zealand Aid has been given a lot more resources to scale up its systems to deal with it.