New Zealand Herald journalist Georgina Campbell reports from an afternoon out door-knocking in Wellington with Labour's Grant Robertson and National's Nicola Willis.
The man pushing billions of dollars out the door to keep the economy alive during Covid-19 rejects the idea that running as an electorate MP is a distraction.
It's Saturday afternoon and Finance Minister Grant Robertson is knocking on doors in Wellington's Mt Victoria two weeks out from election day.
He accepts that most people going about their daily lives aren't focused on multi-billion-dollar fiscal holes or a mislabelled axis on a graph.
The Wellington Central MP of 12 years says the job keeps him grounded.
"The economy is made up of all the people who live in this community, and all of the small businesses who live in this community, and all the other communities.
"So yes, you can talk about the big issues and the billions of dollars, but actually you need to see how that works on the ground. I find it actually adds to my understanding, not takes away."
Robertson says he has got pretty efficient at being the local MP and still finds hours in the day for both that role and being the Finance Minister, even in the middle of a global pandemic.
The first door he knocks on looks like a student flat.
A group of young women are sitting in the back courtyard on furniture made from crates about to eat a lunch of sourdough, cherry tomatoes and orange juice.
"Hello, I'm Grant Robertson. I'm the MP."
Robertson uses a similar approach at all the door knocks that afternoon. He either starts by asking whether people are enrolled to vote, or if they know voting has opened.
One of the women exclaims: "I saw on Jacinda's Instagram that she voted this morning!"
The group doesn't have any questions about the election or issues on their minds, so Robertson leaves them to their lunch.
"Labour?" asks a volunteer waiting at the letterbox.
"Yup without doubt, she follows Jacinda's Instagram", Robertson replies.
The party volunteers are targeting people who they think are potential Labour voters.
They've got the electoral role in electronic form, which they can access with their mobile phone.
It's a lot easier than having a clipboard with screeds of printed paper on it, which never fared particularly well when Wellington wasn't having one of its good days.
One door has a sticker saying "do not knock", but Robertson only sees it after his knuckle has struck the wood.
"We're just selling democracy," he whispers.
The people who live there aren't home anyway.
Robertson knocks on another door: "I've already voted for you, don't worry mate," says the occupant.
As he strolls up to another property he's pretty sure he knows the person who lives there, he's right.
She's happy with how the Government has tackled Covid-19, but sighs, "it's such a
s***ty year, you can't get more
s***tier than this."
They start talking about the referendum on whether to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.
She's voting yes.
"We definitely have to stop arresting all those young kids and giving them records," she says.
But Robertson says the issue people talk to him most about is Covid-19, whether that's the border, jobs, or the economy.
The local issues on people's minds are housing and transport.
He says there are varying views on a second Mt Victoria tunnel, but there's a trend in that the closer you geographically get to the tunnel, the more people don't like the idea of a second one.
The economic recovery from Covid-19 is also on the minds of voters out in Karori, where National's Wellington Central candidate and list MP Nicola Willis is door-knocking.
Her style on people's front door steps is more direct, she literally bounds up steps, and asks voters whether she and the party have done enough to earn their support.
She is a woman on a mission with a steep hill to climb, where Robertson sits at the top.
In the last election Robertson won with a 9963-strong majority over Willis.
The first door she knocks on is textbook National.
The occupant's parents are farmers in Hawke's Bay and Willis has his party vote.
When people aren't at home, Willis leaves a pamphlet and a hand-written card for them.
"The idea with the handwriting on the front is that it catches your eye because it doesn't just look like another political pamphlet. At this point people are spammed, so it's anything to make it stand out," she says.
Willis says discussion often ends up being event-based or whatever is on the front page of the newspaper that day.
Like clockwork, one of the next people she meets says: "I think that the debates have been useful and I think your profile has been great Nicola, it's been really good to see you come up through the ranks."
Listen to Newstalk ZB Wellington from 7.40am on weekdays leading up to the election or on iHeartRadio to hear from candidates across the region's electorates and commentary on the biggest issues facing the capital.
The street Willis is door-knocking has some massive houses lining it with expansive properties.
She comments a lot on how lovely people's gardens are.
"Before we had children, we had a place in Berhampore with a massive vege garden and we were really dedicated gardeners. We really enjoyed it, but now we just don't have the time," she explains.
She passes one man on a spin-bike in his garage and he takes his headphones out briefly to chat. He tells Willis there's no one else home other than the dog.
Willis asks if she can leave her pamphlet on the work bench and he says that's fine.
"My wife is probably more your stripe than mine", he admits.
"Okay, do you think you could pass that on to her?," Willis says.
At another house, Willis is greeted by an undecided voter.
The occupant says there's not enough difference between Labour and National.
"I am a long term Green voter, I've voted for the Green Party for the best part of two decades, but I didn't last time because I feel that they're not voicing my environmental concerns enough and I'm basically not as left-wing as that.
"I was really disappointed with the Green Party that they wouldn't look at partnering with National at all, I think that was when they finally lost me."
Willis pitches a local transport funding policy that will free up cash for councils to spend on water pipes, she talks about Predator Free Wellington, and says many in her caucus identify as being blue-green.
The occupant says she's actually been thinking about voting for Act as she's a big fan of David Seymour.
Willis points out Seymour will still be in Parliament regardless of the party vote.
She moves on.
Willis says she's direct with people because it gets them talking about the issues and she's very aware Robertson is a well-known face.
She knows when she knocks on a door there's a good chance it's the first time someone has met her and she could make a lasting impression.