The Labour-led coalition may have to generate a second wave of Jacindamania if it is to win another term in the Beehive.
Re-election is not an impossible dream, despite the failure of Labour to deliver what many of those who voted for it in 2017 expected.
Retiring Green MP Gareth Hughes summed it up when he told reporters the government had not delivered “transformation”.
The pace of change, he reckons, has not matched what he sees as the problems facing the country.
“Across my 10 years here, things have actually got worse. Emissions have increased, homelessness is growing. I don’t think the government has been transformational. There’s been pockets of transformation, but I don’t think historians are going to look back and say ‘This was a turning point on the scale of the 1930s or 1980s’. And I think that’s desperately needed. It’s a disappointment that we aren’t seeing the change I think we need”.
Whether voters actually want the revolution Hughes believes is necessary is less certain.
Nevertheless Hughes’ frustration is understandable. He has spent 10 years in Parliament, with not a lot to show for it. So it won’t raise an eyebrow he is retiring at the age of 38.
Nearly twice his age, Winston Peters appears determined to serve another term —even though in the past fortnight the revelations in the court case he mounted against two former National ministers and two senior public servants have done little to enhance his reputation.
The party he led into coalition with Labour is now hovering around the 5% threshold. There appears to be little gratitude in the electorate for the role NZ First has played in acting as a brake on the kind of transformatory policies favoured by Labour and the Greens.
NZ First’s re-election worries are compounded by indications that those who voted for Peters thinking he would go into coalition with National are now so sour they will not do so again.
There is, too, the perception NZ First treats the revenue the government collects from hard-working taxpayers as a kitty it won in the game of electoral poker, which can be disbursed in giant boondoggles like the $3bn provincial growth fund or the move to shift the port of Auckland to Marsden Point in Northland.
But all is not lost for the parties in the governing coalition: there remains the star quality which Jacinda Ardern has brought to the role of Prime Minister.
New Zealanders admire that quality, most visible when she steps on to the international stage.
She is unrivalled among her contemporaries in how politically cool she is on social media.
That was reflected in the reaction to a Facebook video in which the narrative focussed on the achievements of her government. The video turned out to be her most popular ever, edging out an earlier video of the speech in Parliament she gave following the Christchurch mosque attacks.
One ecstatic report indicating it had 2.6m views on Facebook, with versions of it on Twitter recording another 2m views, suggested it had been seen by more people than are eligible to vote in NZ. Certainly it had a large number of views across the ditch, where many Australians express envy that NZ has such a remarkable leader, particularly in contrast to their own.
The video may have claimed for Labour triumphs that hardly fell into the category of “transformative””.
But the difficult issue is whether the 645,000 “likes” on Ardern’s Facebook page will translate into the Jacindamania wave strong enough to roll Labour and its allies back into office.