What on earth have they been talking about? Every day this week, Labour and the Greens have been holed up in a smoke-free room to do ... what? Jacinda Ardern calls them "conversations", not "negotiations", because Labour won the right to govern on its own and the Greens don't have anything to negotiate with.
Okay, sure, but there they've been, having their conversations, every day. You'd have to say, this does suggest the Greens are not out of the game. We may find out today.
A week ago I wrote that the big task for both parties was to spend the next three years building a relationship that would persuade voters in 2023 to vote for them again. That's still true.
I suggested the Greens would be best pursuing that goal by supporting a Labour Government when it's good, and loudly proclaiming a better option when it's not.
But that was unless Ardern wanted to give them some actual power. What if she's been saying to them, let's govern together for the next three years, without that malign NZ First "handbrake", and show New Zealand what a great, progressive, inclusive government looks like?
If she has said that, the "conversation" turns on policy, at least as much on who should fill the ministerial jobs to make the policy happen.
We know there won't be structural tax reform: Ardern has ruled that out and she won't go back on her word. So Greens co-leader James Shaw is unlikely to hold on to his associate finance role from last term. But there's lots more still in the mix.
Will they really find it hard to agree on many of the usual headline items? Such as: a commitment to ending all forms of homelessness, more sustainable farming, a bigger shift to public transport and active transport like cycling and walking, protecting the oceans and enhancing the rest of the conservation estate. Oh yes, and stepping up the fight against climate change.
They shouldn't find it too hard to agree on other things, too.
How about making the Greens' Chloe Swarbrick an under-secretary for health, with special responsibility for youth, mental illness and suicide prevention? She's done the mahi, she knows a lot about this field and people listen to her.
How about a bigger role for her colleague Jan Logie? As an under-secretary herself last term, she established a strong whole-of-government approach to combatting family harm and the toxic masculinity that leads to so much of it. Why wouldn't you keep her on in that job?
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage won a massive boost for conservation spending and made progress on everything from marine sanctuaries to mining. There aren't many people in this country who know more about that whole area and none of them are in Parliament. Why dispense with her wisdom, vision and experience now?
This points to a key issue for Ardern as she decides on the makeup of her new ministry: she has to decide what went wrong in the old one. Very often, the answer boils down to one thing: inexperience.
In government, experience doesn't just mean knowledge of the field, although that's important. It means learning how to get the best from officials and not let them block you. How to work with sector groups, to build their respect and their trust. How to present your plans to Cabinet and the finance minister, so they will be supported, as policy and, crucially, in the Budget. And how not to make a fool of yourself, especially by letting your dreams cloud your sense of reality.
The case study is Phil Twyford, outgoing minister of transport and former minister of housing, who had such big plans. That's not something his colleagues could all claim. But he did not know how to get his officials to progress those plans, or how to generate support from coalition partner NZ First. And he just could not stop himself overpromising, which only made his underdelivery so much worse.
Other senior Labour ministers – Megan Woods, Chris Hipkins, Carmel Sepuloni and Nanaia Mahuta spring to mind – were never controversial in the way Twyford was. They are considered "safe pairs of hands", because they're efficient managers. But can they also be good change agents? We don't really know yet.
Ardern needs people with both skill sets in her ministry. The reality of government is that it's an extremely complex system and, as Twyford learned to his cost, it is not set up for change.
Ron Mark, NZ First's outgoing minister of defence, learned the lessons far better. He won funding boosts for the military that few would have predicted from a Labour-led Government, and had a very successful term. He should give masterclasses to new ministers.
Sage, Logie and Shaw in the climate-change portfolio also proved themselves adept at achieving change within the complex system. Does Ardern really want to lose that experience now?
The new Government has many big tasks in front of it and they reach far beyond the post-Covid recovery programme. Progress in the Ngāpuhi treaty process is a priority, and a settlement at Ihumātao should be too.
In housing, there's no good reason the Greens' target of an end to homelessness in all its forms shouldn't be adopted, but it requires reform and progress in everything from consenting and construction to urban planning and welfare.
It would also benefit from a refreshed commitment to the community housing sector and the growing papakāinga movement, which is re-establishing village life on Māori land. There is, perhaps, a role in that for Greens co-leader and long-standing advocate Marama Davidson.
In transport, it's essential not only to get light rail started but to generate popular support for it too.
And the news is in: bike sales are growing so fast, shops fear a Christmas where they just can't keep up with demand. That carries several implications: it's time for some serious support for bike riding among schoolkids; we need greatly enlarged cycleway networks, including SkyPath; and there's surely potential for local manufacturing.
In all of this – public transport and cycling – the MP with the greatest expertise is the Greens' Julie Anne Genter.
So, what have Labour and the Greens been talking about all week? It can't be just the technical form of the new Government. It can't be just who will do what. It has to be about what they're going to do: how they're going to make progressive, inclusive government work. It might even be they're going to try to do it together.
What does that mean for climate change? It's been suggested Ardern herself should take the portfolio, and lead a group of key ministers in the transformations necessary to meet our commitments under the 2015 Paris Accord.
It'd be a big team: environment, finance, transport, primary industries, energy, urban development, construction, local government, regional development, science and technology all have obvious roles to play, and there are more.
Setting up that team would be a major step forward. Doing it without a leading role for the MP who done the most to get us as far as we have today – James Shaw – would be beyond odd.
And the idea of Ardern herself as minister? That could cut both ways. Would her publicly stated desire to govern for "the middle" hold back progress? Or would the fact that voters in "the middle" trust her, be the very thing that makes progress possible?