Stunning revelations about the way New Zealand politics is conducted were heard in the Winston Peters trial at the High Court of Auckland.
Many of us have formed a somewhat jaundiced view of political conduct in New Zealand. It's commonly assumed that parliament and its environs is a dark, seething pit of deviousness, back-stabbing, ruthless self-interest, lies, malice, deceit and various other assorted vices.
Imagine, then, the shock felt by all who were in courtroom 13 as Paula Bennett appeared in the witness box to affirm that New Zealand politics is in fact as sunny and glorious as the golden weather we are currently enjoying.
Bennett was closely questioned by Peters' lawyer Brian Henry. Peters alleges that Bennett breached his privacy in the leaking of his pension overpayments in 2017. But she was in court not merely to defend herself. Her rousing speech defended the entire practise of politics in New Zealand. It was deeply moving.
I saw Peters and Henry together on the opening day of the trial, sharing a table at the court cafe, QCs. The light was dim in their alcove and I couldn't tell if they were sitting or standing but then it's always hard to tell with these two high-achieving tall dwarves.
Bennett, too, is tiny. She looked like a child in the witness box, on her way to a birthday party with lots of balloons - she wore a purple pantsuit, and gave Justice Venning a lovely smile as she took her seat.
But then her expression grew serious. Much of the trial centres on who leaked the information about Peters' overpayment, and why. Was it, Henry asked Bennett, deliberately intended to damage Peters, leaked as it was in the run-up to the 2017 election?
"I have no idea," said Bennett, aghast that such a low person might exist, "what that person was thinking."
Henry was cynical. He suggested that as an experienced politician, Bennett would know full the leaker's intent. She replied, "I do not know their intent."
But, Henry pressed, she would know, would she not, the damage it would cause to Peters' reputation? "Aw," she said. "the public seem to move on remarkably quickly, ya know?"
Justice Venning gazed down upon the cheerful vision in purple. He's one of my favourite judges. He has a good sense of humour, and I detected a flicker of a smile.
Henry asked whether she agreed with Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper that the leak was politically motivated.
"No. No, I don't."
Henry, that dreadful little cynic, asked again. "Because it's pretty obvious it was politically motivated." Bennett replied, "Not necessarily."
In any case, she said, Peters had already front-footed the overpayment, and explained it was a mistake. "And good on him," she said. "I thought it reflected well on him. I'd have done the same. Get in front, and tell your half of the story. Yeah?"
Her admiration for Peters ought to have touched Henry's heart as surely as it touched the heart of all in courtroom 13. But he banged on in his cold little way about the intoxication of gossip and its importance in political life.
Bennett had had enough. She burst into an operatic aria. She trilled, "You've got to love politics! The cut and thrust of it. The buzz is trying to make peoples lives in New Zealand better."
So beautiful! Henry sagged in his black gown, reduced by the sunny radiance of Bennett's demeanour. He had one last question. Didn't she agree that the buzz of politics was knowing something no one else knew, and then telling?
Bennett sat up straight. She was a little purple bolt of moral certainty. She stopped smiling, and narrowed the line of her mouth to a prim and serious expression.
"I'm sure there are people like that, Mr Henry," she said. "But they're not people I associate with."
Henry slumped into his chair. Bennett treated Justice Venning to a last, lovely smile, and left the courtroom. Would there be ice-cream and cake at the birthday party? It would surely be lashings of fun.