Even in the middle of a remote forest in the Far North amid kauri trees and a few of mosquitoes, Jacinda Ardern was still swarmed by fans.
It was all thanks to a last-minute change to their holiday that the family happened to bump into the Labour leader just after she announced her party's pledge to invest $32 million in the fight against dieback.
Jacindamania reached the winter-less North yesterday on a rare – but welcome – dreary day for a region nervous the summer could bring another destructive drought.
Not 10 minutes into Ardern's jam-packed agenda was she declared the "Queen of New Zealand" by one of the speakers at the opening of the long-awaited Hundertwasser-inspired community hub in Kawakawa.
The Te Hononga building has been 12 years in the making after two sets of funding from the Provincial Growth Fund totalling more than $18 million.
And it appeared everyone in the small Far North town showed up for its opening ceremony, and at least eight people gave speeches.
By the time it got to Te Waihoroi Shortland, of Ngāti Hine, there was no one left to thank – so he thanked himself for being up since 4am, which was impressive for a man of his age, he said.
Shortland then thanked the Prime Minister for keeping his people safe during Covid-19, even though it meant Māori had to temporarily change their ways to "be part of the team".
"One of the things we changed was our want to hug and hongi and to kiss each other and to touch our dead and we had to change some of those things to get through.
"We have enjoyed your leadership through all of this but I don't want to dwell on it – we've got a job to do, you and I," Shortland said before he and Ardern parted the crowd to unveil the crowing bird statue in the building.
The crush of fans then descended on Ardern as she introduced herself to the apprentices who'd built the building. They came bearing gifts, paintings, hugs and selfies and even followed her into the toilet as she admired it.
The mob was a slight inconvenience for Justice Minister Andrew Little, however, who needed to push his way through to actually use the bathroom.
Next on the itinerary was the policy announcement under the kauri canopy – an hour roundtrip from Kawakawa – where Ardern, Little, Police Minister Stuart Nash, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor stood shoulder-to-shoulder and unveiled two very different policies at once.
The first was the pledge to spend $32 million over five years to defend kauri from dieback by using the Biosecurity Act's strongest form of protection - a National Pest Management Plan.
The other was a law and order policy that promises to roll out a successful treatment programme for methamphetamine users to 4000 more people, set up another alcohol and drug court in Hawke's Bay, help Māori women prisoners turn their lives around and scrap the three strikes law.
Ardern was also forced to address National leader Judith Collins' accusations a $100 million Provincial Growth Fund spending announcement today was "verging on corruption".
The money that would be spent on upgrading hundreds of marae across the country is the last official PGF announcement – meaning all of the $3 billion fund has now been allocated.
Ardern said Collins' claims were "absolutely not true" and said when National was in government it also made spending announcements during the campaign with her office later giving specific examples.
After a quick walk around the Manginangina Kauri Walk it was back in the bus – and a Labour-branded ute for Davis – and back down State Highway 1 to visit volunteers in the lunches in schools programme at Hati's Cafe in Moerewa.
The cafe put on a spread for the Prime Minister and her entourage: mussel fritters, sweet treats, cheese and crackers but gave Ardern some of their famous muffins to take away and a mug of tea to take with her to the next stop.
The last stop of the day was to visit people involved with the Te Ara Oranga programme.
Rolling the programme out to 4000 more people would cost $38 million over four years.
The group listened to stories of people who'd battled addictions and spoke of why there needed to be more support on the other side of prison.
Many thanked Ardern for taking the time to visit and for her leadership, though it wasn't without an ego-check from one man involved in the community-led Waipuna Ora recovery programme.
"I'll just talk to you as a normal person; I'm not too much about the Prime Minister stuff myself," he said.
The man watched Ardern become Prime Minister while he was locked up in prison.
"I thought, 'Far, she's doing alright'. But you're a lot smaller in real life."