by Tim Watkin

The birth of a child is almost always a joyous event, but it's especially so for a government that desperately needs the time-out to re-set itself and rediscover its discipline and competence 

As Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters stand poised to fulfill very different dreams, neither of them will be terribly happy with where the government stands on the brink of this wee bit of history.

Our police force are yet to fully discharged their duty in the Dirty Politics case, which raises further questions about government agencies' respect for journalism

The mea cupla is fulsome and the apology - however hard won - is on the record. Nicky Hager has won an important victory for the rights of journalists to go about their business without intrusive oversight from the police, who have been shown to be less than honest. But questions remain.

I started this blog post wanting to layout the issues left unresolved after a week of reportage on meth houses. I finished it furious at the inept government response, not just since 2016, but since the report was released. Phil Twyford has work to do

It's time for another big meth house clean-up. Not of the houses themselves, which Sir Peter Gluckman has finally and definitively said are about as dangerous as a $10 note, but of the decision-making process around disputed science in public policy and Housing New Zealand's leadership.

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.