I spent last week following Judith Collins around. Driving here, flying there. Very good fish and chips from Stumpy's in Whangārei, Olaf's fig and walnut bread baked in Mt Eden but bought from the Farmers Market in Clevedon, and not a blessed place open for eating anywhere on a wet Sunday night in Nelson. My room had a toaster, I still had that bread. I'm not really complaining.
Mostly, the Collins on show was a conservative politician who knows how to look ahead.
Conservative: she believes business knows how to solve the ills of the world, because those ills are fundamentally economic and what business is good at is managing risk and handling money. So policy should focus on helping them get on with it.
You can challenge every single part of that view, but it is the mainstream conservative political position.
Looking ahead: the focus, over and over, was on tech. Collins promoted STEM education, tech entrepreneurialism, smart new tech in everything from hauling freight to horticulture. She knows the opportunities provided by new technology are an essential part of any forward-looking policy platform.
But there's much more to Collins than cheerleader for a business-led Covid recovery. She is, as she has told us several times, both a Christian and a feminist. Reminding us of her faith is clearly an attempt to win back votes from fringe parties on the right.
But is that its main purpose? The core issue motivating fundamentalist Christians (and many Catholics) in the political sphere is abortion. And for them, Collins the feminist is on the wrong side of it.
She voted for abortion reform this year and stands by it now. That seriously compromises her potential to win back those fringe votes.
So what is Collins really telling us with her reaffirmed Christianity?
She chose to vote and pray at a church being used as a polling booth last weekend, but she didn't go to either of the options in her Papakura electorate: the Tongan Methodist Church on Ormiston Rd and the Harvest Christian Church in Papakura. Both of them are evangelical.
Instead, she went to an Anglican church, her own denomination, in Kohimarama, which is not in her electorate.
The associations were rich. St Thomas Tāmaki is a 176-year-old stone church with a traditional, genteel, Pākehā Anglican focus. It's where former prime minister Rob Muldoon used to worship when he was MP for the Tāmaki electorate.
Collins was connecting to the history. Her message was for the centrist and liberal-minded waverers of the leafy eastern suburbs: decent-minded National voters who believe in environmental values and right now appreciate the crisis leadership of Jacinda Ardern.
Collins was telling those voters she is one of them. The Anglican Church used to be called the National Party at prayer, and there she was, literally demonstrating it.
She's a clever politician and no one should ever forget it. Although that doesn't quite explain the random dissociation from National Party values apparent in some of the other things she's said recently.
Her solution to fixing the problem of more resilience for Auckland harbour crossings? "We're committed to building tunnels and no one in Wellington is going to stop us," she told a corporate breakfast. "We're just going to do it."
To be clear, "Just going to do it" means "don't care what the business case says". I'm in favour of that: business cases for strategic infrastructure rarely pass the calculator test, but once it's built the value becomes plain. The harbour bridge itself is an excellent example.
But you won't usually find the National Party saying this. Business values, remember?
On TV, Collins called for "some" house prices to be lowered. Where does that leave the party's loyal voters? Protecting the untaxed capital gains of property ownership has been a mainstay of National's platform since forever.
And which houses should have lower prices anyway? Those in the wealthier suburbs, where the voter base lives? Or those in the poorer suburbs, where the voter base owns rental properties?
At that corporate breakfast Collins said she would double the budget of the Serious Fraud Office and add "Anti-corruption" to its title. Why? Because corruption is "the reason so many developing countries are in trouble".
That's true, but when I asked her what parts of the New Zealand economy had a problem with corruption she said: "There's a lot of money in the construction sector."
Wait, was she saying there was corruption in the construction sector now?
She said no.
Collins said on TV that corporates declaring good profits after taking the wage subsidy should be required to pay it back, and she would try to legislate if necessary. A retrospective law to ping companies that haven't broken the law? National has never previously countenanced such a thing, as the right-leaning commentator Ben Thomas has noted.
Gotta say, I thought there might be more of an outcry from National supporters about some of this.
Still, never let it be said Judith Collins has quietly morphed into a champagne socialist. Over the last few days she's complained about cycle lanes and media studies courses in school, promised an inquiry into Auckland Council, claimed farmers have been turned into "pariahs", labelled the Green Party "far left" and implied Jacinda Ardern is a communist.
These are the rambling gripes of someone having a very bad day at the office water-cooler.
To take just one of them. Auckland Transport (AT) doesn't want to "make everything cycling or walking", as she told Mike Hosking on radio. Last financial year, $1.98 billion dollars was spent on transport in Auckland, by AT and Waka Kotahi (the NZ Transport Agency) combined.
Of that, $42.4 million went on cycling and walking, with less than half contributed by AT. Just 2.1 per cent.
By the way, as she likes to say, how will she respond when tech entrepreneurs wanting to set up shop here ask for more cycle-friendly cities for their staff?