Leaders debates between the two contenders to lead the country are important to them - and the broadcasters - because they draw big TV audiences, including people who don’t follow politics all that closely at other times.
But the viewers who tuned into TVNZ's showdown between Judith Collins and Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday night were served up a mostly bloodless encounter.
Collins described the contest afterwards as "like a boxing match - but without the boxing".
Instead the debate was defined more by what didn't take place than what did. Its two biggest controversies were over something Ardern never said, and the absence of any discussion about Māori.