Christopher Luxon can fly out of his first caucus retreat as National leader with some confidence.
Former leader Judith Collins decided to book the retreat in Queenstown (to highlight tourism), once part of Bill English's Clutha-Southland fiefdom. Alas, more recently the electorate - or more specifically, its MPs, Todd Barclay and Hamish Walker - was symbolic of everything that's wrong with the modern National Party.
Luxon's two days retreating with caucus was designed to "draw a line in the sand" (as Luxon is fond of saying), and show that National is the party of Luxon and Willis, not Barclay and Walker (and Falloon and Bezzant, for that matter).
He's working on a code of behaviour for National MPs with the party - something that should have been done a term or two ago.
He's also trying to build bridges with Māori, something the Key-English leadership did a respectable job of doing, but which were severely damaged under Judith Collins.
He invited Māori leader Traci Houpapa to speak to the caucus about the party's engagement with Māori, promising a frank chat. MP Paul Goldsmith, whose comments about colonialism being "on balance" a good thing promised he'd pay good attention.
National calls these things "provocations" now - something to jolt MPs out of their comfort zones.
It's a bit corporate - the sort of HR mop-up you'd commission after a conduct and culture disaster at your company. That doesn't make it a bad thing - it just has to work. National needs to prove it takes conduct and culture seriously, and it has to end its hot-and-cold relationship with Māoridom.
Luxon personally performed well. He's good with people - very good. He asks thoughtful questions, and listens to what people have to say. His speech to the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce was well received - although this tourism-starved region was probably always in the bag for National.
Luxon's not just good with the top end of town, however. He'll remember a chat had with service staff in a cafe, and follow up with them the next time he pops in.
That sort of human stuff can't be learned - and it's what National desperately needs right now. The big challenge for Luxon and his MPs will be to dial down the corporateese to make sure that people see there's a human behind the jargon.
He and his staff must also remember to showcase this side of Luxon more: the party too often puts "stakeholders" ahead of "voters".
A scheduled walkabout in Queenstown was axed because of Covid, but Luxon's got to make sure that the second restrictions are eased, he gets out to meet people - ordinary people (something he urged his MPs to do at the conference).
In the non-scheduled parts of the conference, Luxon was well-received; people stopped, waved, and said they were voting blue. That sort of stuff would look good on the 6 o'clock news - Luxon and his team should make sure it gets there.
For all the "drawing a line" guff, it was Luxon himself who, at times, evoked uncomfortable comparisons with National leaders' past.
The biggest flub was Luxon's main policy announcement. Enough rapid antigen tests for schools to do two surveillance tests a week. Luxon didn't know the number of students and teachers in the country who would be using the tests, but he reckoned he could procure enough.
But a quick check showed there are 800,000 students and 70,000 teachers in the country, meaning about 1.6-1.7 million tests a week to fulfil Luxon's promise - an implausible number. Indeed, it would burn through New Zealand's 100m annual order of RATs leaving almost none for people working in hospitals.
It's a fairly big mistake for Luxon. He's never slow to burnish his business chops - and fair cop, they're his key credential and he's got every right to make sure every voter south of Cape Reinga hears about them - but he's got to make sure the business acumen looks real.
To borrow Luxon's analogy: an airline wouldn't announce a new airline route without working out if it had planes or fuel to fly it.
The error was sloppy, really sloppy - indeed, it was quickly fact-checked with a simple Google search. Luxon's right to put a spotlight on the party's conduct and culture issues, but he shouldn't forget it had a problem with poorly costed and ill-thought policy too.
He's lucky Labour will not want to spend too much time talking about RATs, an issue that threatens to become Covid's KiwiBuild.
That wasn't Luxon's only policy misfire. Asked about party policies to get people into work, he came up with a hypothetical in work tax credit scheme, which would give people a greater financial incentive to work.
Only, New Zealand has such a scheme, the independent earner tax credit. Introduced by John Key, but repealed by Bill English. Repealed, that is, until it was brought back following the election of Ardern.
It was an anodyne mistake, but one which if made during an election campaign could easily dominate a news cycle.
Still, the caucus will leave Queenstown feeling it is at least pointed in the right direction.
Polling has recovered to the point where National now has a credible chance of winning the election. 1 News-Kantar's controversial approval rating on Sunday night was controversial not because Luxon won it on penalties, but because it was the first poll of any kind that National or a leader of National has won since February 2020.
That won't mean squat in 2023, but in January 2022, it gives the party hope that they might finally be on to something.