After Labour's incredibly well-planned start to election year, including a $12 billion infrastructure plan, and $300 million homelessness spend, Jacinda Ardern is facing the type of problem that is a test of leadership: the unexpected.
Unexpected events involving her own ministers are easily handled. She can decide who to blame.
It was RNZ in the recent debacle involving the RNZ Concert.
It is inconceivable that Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi did not play a large part in the misunderstanding that arose about what should be announced and when.
But Ardern was unusually emphatic in where the blame lay.
• NZ First Foundation received tens of thousands of dollars from horse racing industry
• NZ First undeclared donations: Serious Fraud Office to investigate
• Winston Peters says donors are entitled to anonymity
• NZ First Foundation donor: 'I clearly believed I was helping NZ First get in'
Unexpected events involving her Coalition partner and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters are a different story because, in the nature of the partnership, she cannot blame him for anything, unless he admits to blame himself.
His behaviour this week will be a worry for Ardern as she attempts to keep her distance from New Zealand First's donations saga involving its murky vehicle, the New Zealand First Foundation.
The best way for Peters to handle a party's donations having been referred to the Serious Fraud Office is to accept it, welcome it, then shut up until the finding comes through.
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But best practice often eludes Peters. You can unusually count on him to make a bad situation worse, as he did this week.
His brag about hosting a reveal-all session on Facebook about the foundation fizzled into nine minutes of barely audible nothingness.
He refused to answer reasonable questions from mainstream media during the day, as though he had something to hide, but said nothing new in the live-stream except to defend the right of New Zealand First donors to remain secret.
Shane Jones in Parliament on Thursday said that, unlike the last Government, his Government did not cater to the "big end of town" which was a bit rich given RNZ's Guyon Espiner this week revealed a series of donations made to the foundation by New Zealand's richest man and wealthy racing interests.
Peters' indulgence in sideshows has drawn more attention to the fact his party is under scrutiny.
He bragged about the photos "we" – presumably he meant his party – had taken of disgruntled former president Lester Gray meeting journalists in Tauranga.
This is not exactly a civil liberties issue because Gray was wondering around in a public place with the journalist who has been doing a fine job with the foundation.
It is fairly evident New Zealand First's main interest is Gray and the photo was taken from inside a café out to a footpath and not the other way round.
But even if Peters' subsequent retraction is true and his party did not take the photo, what a misjudgment to brag about it and post it online. It has created uproar and problems for Ardern.
The journalists' union, E Tu, the most powerful union affiliated to the Labour Party, publicly criticised Peters and senior official Paul Tolich, also a member of Labour's ruling New Zealand Council, demanded an apology from Peters.
That will exacerbate an already strained relationship between the union and New Zealand First which is blocking Labour's biggest promise to unions, Fair Pay Agreement plans, which allow limited national awards to be reinstated.
It will also make things awkward for Ardern at her next press conference as she is pressed to make a value judgment on the photos that will either annoy her Coalition partner or her strongest affiliated union.
She will, of course, avoid doing both but if Peters weren't so cavalier, she would not be put in that position.
Meanwhile, National has been able frame the issue as a party of Government engaging in sleazy dealings and to reinforce the fact the Prime Minister has no control over New Zealand First.
It is the sleaze that does the damage. Facts can be disputed, but once a party is tainted with sleaze, its hard to scrub off.
And it is not clear whether Ardern has the ability to keep her distance from New Zealand First.
Commenting on the party's financial support from the racing industry, she said racing policy had to be signed off by all three parties of Government. In fact, Labour signed up holus bolus to implementing New Zealand First's racing policy in its Coalition agreement.
Peters' demeanour is more akin to the 2008 donations' scandal when he behaved like a man under siege.
The SFO has not yet decided to investigate. It has received a referral from the police, which received material from the Electoral Commission. It is not yet clear whether the SFO will announce they have enough to launch a formal investigation as it did in 2008.
That was the trigger for Peters standing aside as a minister, although there is no reason to suppose he will again.
Peters insists the New Zealand First Foundation has acted within the law and if it has, then what is all his fuss about?
The commission has already formed the view that some of the money given to the foundation was meant to be a donation to the party and should have been forwarded to the party and declared as a donation.
The SFO will use its extensive powers to look at whether there was an intention to circumvent the law and, if so, by whom.
National leader Simon Bridges was right this week to call for an investigation to be done as quickly as possible so that voters on September 19 can make their judgments on the facts.
He has been buoyed by the 1News Colmar Brunton poll in which, after a week after ruling out any post-election deal with New Zealand First, he could be prime minister in a coalition with Act – although that was the case in December before he ruled out New Zealand First.
The good news for Ardern in that poll was that she too could form a second-term Government, although only if Shane Jones were to win the Northland seat for NZ First. Then again, perhaps that is bad news for Ardern.