One year on from taking the most difficult job in politics, Claire Trevett reads the tea leaves with Simon Bridges.
Driving away from National Party leader Simon Bridges' Tauranga home, the politician says he feels like the star in James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke".
He would be Paul McCartney, he decides. The song he would sing?
"Help! I need somebody."
He thinks this is terribly funny, this joke at his own expense and the polls in single figures.
Bridges has just marked his first anniversary as leader. It was a lamentable, horrible year in many ways. There was the Jami-Lee Ross thing, the soaring popularity of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and his own ever-decreasing popularity.
Bridges celebrated by playing with the first anniversary present Labour delivered him - the Tax Working Group's proposal for a capital gains tax.
On this particular day, he is like a child just before Christmas. The Tax Working Group is set to report back later that day and Bridges is fizzing at the prospect it will deliver a recommendation for a capital gains tax.
Over the course of the two-hour long interview, he is relentlessly and annoyingly on message. He ignores the occasional eye rolling and groans of "here we go again" as he manages to turn every topic of conversation back to the perils of a capital gains tax.
Driving past some tradies, he says they won't vote for Labour. "They're not voting for petrol tax increases and rental cost and the capital gains tax." He won't stop the car to let me ask them.
When he sees a real estate agent, the same spiel is delivered: "He won't want a capital gains tax."
He sees that tax as one of his most potent weapons.
The other one is back at his home, a comfortable, large, two-storeyed wooden 1950s house in a nice outer suburb of Tauranga.
Her name is Jemima and she is Bridges' 14-month-old daughter.
Bridges has a terrible soft spot for Jemima.
He has a view that if his sons Emlyn and Harry end up as bad eggs it will be his fault but it will be his wife Natalie's fault if Jemima goes off-track, so he can spoil her senseless.
"This is going to get me in trouble with the woke crowd, isn't it? But I think little boys will be looking to their father for behaviour and little girls, they'll be looking to both of course, but perhaps more to the mother. So I feel I've got to make sure I am a good role model to my two boys."
In that regard, it doesn't bode well that he had earlier said it was a relief the boys weren't there because one might have used some bad language. This too, he insists, would have been Natalie's fault.
While Ardern goes to some lengths to keep daughter Neve out of the media, Bridges has no such qualms.
Wee Jemima, Emlyn and Harry have featured in several women's magazines and Bridges' own personal social media – shots from birthday parties, catching the bus (he's only done it once) to camping on the back yard.
Bridges justifies this by saying National had always put family values at the centre of its policy, and that was why he presented himself as a family man. The unspoken part of this is he is in Opposition and will use whatever he can to try and get an advantage.
This is a political road trip of sorts, back to the heady days of 2008 when Bridges was an up-and-coming politician and the John Key-led National Party prepared to surge back into government after nine years in the wilderness.
The schedule includes Baypark Theatre, where he first debated with NZ First leader Winston Peters in that election. Peters was embroiled in the uproar around donations from Owen Glenn, something Bridges refers to as his "yes-no thing" – a reference to the No sign Peters held up to deny a donation.
Nobody had really heard of Bridges then. He admits to being wary of Peters at first.
"Winston is a bit like an alligator. The less contact you have with him, the better."
Peters won the debate, according to media there.
But Bridges won the war, beating Peters by more than 10,000 votes and leaving NZ First out of Parliament. At the time, many observed Bridges was somewhat similar to a young Peters - both lawyers and both Māori who did not make much of it.
On election night, Peters was gracious in defeat, describing Bridges as "a bright, young guy". He has rather changed his tune since then.
Plans to drive in his electric car - an Audi - have been scrapped because of signage on the side advertising his wife's PR company. Instead the family's diesel SUV has been called into service. It has been a while between car washes.
Bridges considered cleaning it, "but in the scheme of my 28 things to do each day, cleaning this car is not high on the list".
The window is covered in dust, there are nappies in the boot and tucked into door pockets. There is a can of hairspray with the boast of "Instant Fullness" on it.
"I want to reassure you that's not mine," he says.
He laughs when it is suggested he apply the spray to his poll results. "Grow it in a minute, you reckon? That's fantastic."
He was also asked to take us to his "happy place" – somewhere he went to restore his soul. He does not have time for soul restoration, so he said that was his home with his children.
Instead, he takes us to the next best thing to his happy place – the first ever Road of National Significance under National's roading programme.
That is the Tauranga Eastern Link, a vision in bitumen. It is a long, wide ribbon of hope and ambition - and a toll to pay for it.
He introduces it as if it was a Tinder profile: "One of the best roads in New Zealand. Four lanes, it's smooth, it's got all the safety features you could hope for. It's like a very highly spec-ed car. It shows what we can do and what is possible."
The former transport minister loves his roads. He is particularly excited about the 110km/h speed limit on this one. That higher speed limit was his initiative.
He says he will do 108km/h, given the cameras are on him. As we near his big road, he is pootling along at 90km/h. Even the people movers are overtaking him but he is too busy talking about the perils of a capital gains tax to care.
The presence of the cameras has stifled all form of interesting behaviour. After a spot of interesting driving, he bemoans the footage will prompt 85 complaints from "angry old ladies".
When I say I had hoped to stop somewhere and see him interacting with normal people, he tuts: "Far too much danger."
Later, he titters like an 8-year-old when someone in the next car picks their nose. He daren't do that any more. "Someone will get a photo one day, won't they?"
Distracted by the driving, he does list a favourite MP (Paula Bennett "at the moment") before belatedly saying leaders should probably not have favourites, like parents with children.
When I ask who his favourite child is, he replies with a grin: "I don't have one, but you might have met her."
Bridges' electorate office is an old house in Tauranga, which is stifling hot. It used to be a beauty parlour and still has positive affirmations painted on the walls, such as "laugh often" and "live well".
The first is proving to be advice for life for Bridges, who has to contend with the pillorying and mocking of his low personal polling.
Earlier, Natalie had described him as a "dirty little street fighter".
He was not prone to sulking and his sense of humour was intact.
"He's incredibly resilient. He's a real fighter. He's a street fighter and I've always said that. I've always said Opposition would suit him well. I've seen him in court rooms, and he's a dirty little street fighter. So an adversarial, difficult, mud slinging-type environment doesn't faze him."
Unsurprisingly, Natalie thinks he is fabulous. As for his most commented-on feature – his voice – Natalie says to give up changing that. "He's too far gone. His voice and everything – he is what he is."
When the street fighter comment is put to Bridges, he says it comes from his background.
"I didn't grow up with a lot. I have had to work hard for things in life." There is no surprise when he adds that this is also why he will not support a capital gains tax. The eyes roll.
As for whether he had ever actually been involved in a street fight, he says he was not a fighter in the physical sense. "I use words as my tools, not my hands, not my fists. Physically I'm not a fighter."
Is that because he would lose?
"I think I probably would."
He steers any question about his personal polling back to the party's polling in the 40s.
He reflects that it would have been nice to be John Key, sitting around in the 50s and 60s.
Of his first year as leader of the Opposition, he says he was prepared for what he faced – presumably barring the unpredictable Jami Lee Ross incident.
"I'm not saying it's been a pleasure cruise at all points in time. Of course it hasn't. But I was emotionally prepared, I suppose, for what people say is the hardest job of any in politics. And actually it has had its real upsides."
The Government he is hoping will lose the election is led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is showing no signs of obliging him so far.
The two have near-parallel lives in politics and Bridges says they are friendly. "Anyone who is Prime Minister of New Zealand has my respect. She is someone who is similar in age and actually you wouldn't say different outlooks but different politics."
He does not adopt the street fighter tactics for Ardern.
"I don't think that's my style anyway. I've got this, maybe it's an old-fashioned view, but you're best to fight fire with fire. So the Winston Peters of this world, they're happy to dish it out and that requires a certain response. That's not Jacinda Ardern's style and it's not my style."
One person who would have the appetite for that is Judith Collins, and Bridges laughs when the suggestion of a co-leadership model with him and Collins.
"That's very, very Green. I don't think that would work in the National Party. You've got to have one top dog."
He has no plan B should someone else topple him as top dog.
"I've only got one plan and that is to go to the election and seek to win."
On the bookshelf at the Bridges' home, a Bible sits among the other books. Bridges' father was a man of the cloth and he is religious himself. He thanked God in both his maiden speech and his victory speech in 2008.
Now he prefers not to talk about it too much. But it does come into play on moral issues, and much has been made of Bridges' stance on matters such as gay marriage and abortion reform.
Bridges says much has been made of him being conservative on moral issues, but he considers himself bank smack in the middle of National in philosophy.
All leaders should stamp their own mark on the party they lead. Bridges tends to the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" approach with National.
He is preparing the party for 2020 by taking an in-depth look at policies. That includes setting out his areas of priority.
The economy goes without saying. He has pegged out education as another.
"I grew up in a family that, while we were not poor, we weren't wealthy. Education was my meal ticket. I did well at that and and that allowed me to a lot more opportunities and privileges than perhaps I thought possible."
Then there is infrastructure. He calls himself "an infrastructure guy".
He is also trying to push National as strong on the environment - "practical environmentalists".
This may seem contrary, given his version of paradise is the four-laned highways, but he insists those roads are actually good for the environment – something to do with fuel economy.
What spare time Bridges has is saved for his family but he does have some hobbies on hold. He likes to read. Natalie says he closets himself away in a room by himself: "The definition of an introvert."
He also lists wine as a hobby.
He insists wine can be considered a hobby. "To be honest, it doesn't take a whole lot of skill. I think about it. I read about it, I taste it.
"I just like a wine or two. And there are medicinal benefits."
His pet hate is people who drive at 90km/h on the open road and then speed up once they get to a passing lane.
Asked if this road was his legacy in politics, he says no. "I've got much more legacy to give."
As we head back to his house, the Tax Working Group report is released. There is some relief when Bridges hears it has indeed proposed a capital gains tax go ahead.
There is a slight squeal when he hears it will be up to 33 per cent.
Bridges parks the family car and goes inside to have a proper look.
A couple of hours later he is thundering away about it being an "attack on the Kiwi style of life", a "declaration of war" on farmers and an affront to all hard-working New Zealanders.
It might be a temporary state of being if the Government dilutes those proposals down. But for now at least, the dirty little street fighter is in his element.