by Tim Watkin

Two weeks out, Labour is positioning its first budget as a noble quest story in which it saves the nation from under-funding whilst also being super-responsible. But with questions about how it will try match its spending to its rhetoric, it feels more like a plot-twisting mystery

Budgets typically make for dry reading. From a speech that opens with a motion to pass the Appropriation Bill (yawn!) to appendices full of complex numbers, they're not exactly page-turners. Yet this year's Budget promises to be something of a pot-boiler packed with twists and turns and mysteries to be solved.

Jacinda Ardern has drawn on our national pride in New Zealand's nuclear-free stance to rally support for her decision to end offshore oil drilling. But her announcement has echoes of Douglas and Prebble as much as Lange and Palmer

When Jacinda Ardern was asked to justify her government's decision to stop issuing oil drilling permits forthwith she drew on a memory that sits deep in her party's - and our country's - soul. Our nuclear-free status. The decision for me, however, recalls another controversial move by that same fourth Labour government.

Four of New Zealand's five most senior politicians are now under 45 and one the most notable features of this term so far is the sight of party leaders struggling to exercise power and to come to terms with the big jobs

Late Sunday afternoon my six year-old was wandering around in Spiderman pants, a pirate's cape and a variety of hats. A child playing dress-up made me think of nothing so much as the leadership on display in New Zealand's 52nd parliament.

Looking at the long lead-up to New Zealand's increasingly curious stance on Russia, the government seems to be wasting diplomatic capital at a time it should be storing it up against future need

It's been done so casually and with such a carefree shrug, that it's easy to miss what a significant choice it seems to be. It's like coming home on Valentines without flowers and saying 'but all the flower shops were closed'. Or not handing in your homework because you lost the textbook.

Of course there was nothing else for it. Steven Joyce was never going to sit there and fade into insignificance. So now National begins its true test, and it could signal a realignment on the right of New Zealand politics

Key was a surprise, but a lone act. McCully was predictable, even inevitable. As was English, after he'd had a tilt and failed (again). So it's Joyce's resignation that feels like a turning of the tide, a passing of the baton.

When Trevor Mallard read out a new, revised prayer at the start of parliament this year, I started writing about some of the questions it raised for me. It's taken a while to get it down, but I wonder whether we shouldn't be giving this some deeper thought

 Arguing about the prayer that open parliament each day is as old as parliament itself; it was the first order of business in the first session (after the election of the speaker) when New Zealand's new parliament opened in Auckland, May 1854.

As all things new come to dominate New Zealand's political landscape, National will be forced more quickly than it hoped to confront its own need for change. Tonight's poll offers succour for the party, but tolls the bell for Bill.

The first poll of the year confirms the over-arching narrative of New Zealand politics since the election and follows some pretty typical trends. But it raises a few curly questions too, mostly about new generations.

Labour's willingness to back the new CPTPP owes a lot to the US president, but also shows the rise of the political realists in its ranks. But the hard part is yet to come 

It seems – perhaps, maybe – that Donald Trump has done us a favour. A new, stream-lined, more widely palatable and, well, more trade-focused pacific trade deal is about to be signed by the 11 remaining countries. 

Jim Anderton has died at a time when the party he fought for, then walked out on, looks more like him than it does his erstwhile opponents.

Jim Anderton's final victory comes in the words of tribute from the leaders of the party that once famously "left" him and the sincerity with which they have claimed him as one of their own; a face once more on the Labour totem pole. Through much of the 1990s while he was bitterly attacked by Labour leaders - Helen Clark included - such tributes were impossible to imagine.

What kind of New Zealand might we see in 20 years? Well I saw a snaking line recently and rather than having a nightmarish premonition, I was filled with hope

I saw a human snake crawling its way across a stage in this past week and it could have been anywhere in the world. It was the glimpse of New Zealand's future and raised questions about how New Zealand might looked in 20 years. And you know what? It filled me with hope.