Shanan Halbert, Labour's candidate for Northcote, can barely contain his grin. He's got polling data that shows him leading the sitting National MP, Dan Bidois, by eight points.
"It's early days," he said, they're taking nothing for granted. Of course not. But at 48.6 per cent to Bidois' 40.9 per cent, Halbert seems more than a touch hopeful.
It's his third go. In the 2018 by-election, he lost to Bidois by a six-point margin; in 2017, he lost to National's Jonathan Coleman by 17 points.
At the Labour Party's Māori caucus campaign launch, at the Ngā Whare Waatea Marae in Māngere, it wasn't just Halbert feeling hopeful. Everyone was glowing with it.
Francis and Kaiora Tipene, the Casketeers, were the MCs. "Frankly," said Francis, "We'd much rather be doing funerals. Who knows, by the end of the day we might have one."
Funeral jokes! That's how confident they all were. They sang "E hine, hoki mai ra", with the Tipenes' young son on guitar and Francis making extravagantly arm gestures "to help him remember when to change chords". The PM sang along, grinning away.
Most of the Māori MPs were there, along with several Māori candidates, like Halbert and Arena Williams from Manurewa, who are standing in general seats.
Even Rino Tirikatene was there. The MP for Te Tai Tonga is as big as a grizzly bear and he stood at the podium grinning, his giant paws spread wide. "Yes whanau, the South Island is here! The big mountain! The big crayfish!"
Jackson made a long speech about the achievements of the Māori caucus. "Our crew have done so much," he said. "We work on the bread-and-butter issues. What are they? Jobs, jobs, jobs. And housing and health. We don't make any apology for it. The kaupapa of a higher minimum wage, and an extra $75 in the family allowance, those things are huge for our people".
He had a list of "10 wins for whanau", displayed on a screen. All children learning New Zealand History in schools by 2022. Also, "Record investment in Whānau Ora, and that's down to the minister, Peeni Henare."
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He said this gets criticised "by the odd mongrel around the place, I won't say who it was".
Kelvin Davis, said Jackson, had gained $230 million more funding for kohanga reo; Nanaia Mahuta $100 million to help unlock the potential of Māori land. Before Covid, there had been record levels of Māori employment, they had started to "break the cycle" in justice and corrections, started to address mental health.
"Everyone is doing the business even though they're not getting the recognition. I'm proud of this team."
When Davis got up he said they weren't in it for the recognition. "We don't care who gets the credit." He's the party's deputy and MP for Te Tai Tokerau and he talked about the reduction in the prison population, from 10,400 down to 9160.
"The impossible can happen if you truly believe."
Andrew Little, Minister of Justice, said his aim was "to change people's view of the courts, from being a place of fear to a place where they know it is their best chance to get the help they need". That seemed quite big.
"Willie stole all my material," said Ardern when she came to speak.
She said we all know we have embraced "the idea of being a team, the idea of being kind, the importance of staying home".
Those things, she said, express a single value: whanaungatanga. "It's kinship, pulling together. We showed the world a New Zealand value that we have learned from Māoridom."
She said she was proud of the way her Government had met people's needs during the pandemic, "but it cannot be just about need: it's also about aspiration".
At the start, when Peeni Henare spoke during the pōhiri, he had the crowd laughing, over and over, and afterwards everyone was up to sing "Aue te Aroha", a waiata that resonates for Labour because Te Aroha is the middle name of Ardern's daughter.
Jokes are good, cultural resonance even better. But for all the confidence, no one was pretending their work is done.
At the end, Haare Williams approached the podium. Old and frail, he's an immensely respected kaumatua who told a protest rally at Ihumātao in late 2018, months before the re-occupation, how worried he was about the Labour-led Government.
"I believe in Labour but I may not believe in this Labour Government," he said then. He'd been wearing his medal as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. "If the Government doesn't resolve this," he said, meaning the Ihumātao dispute, "I'm going to give this," meaning the medal, "back to the Governor-General."
In Māngere on Sunday, he didn't mention Ihumātao. No one did. He gave the final prayer.
"Know us by our deeds," Ardern had said. "Let's keep moving forwards."