The big day has arrived for a spring wedding of political rivals. Three of them. But who will be groom number two? It's time for the big reveal as they sign their nuptials.
A lobby of photojournalists are arrayed like a religious painting, ready for a shot of the happy trio as they walk across Parliament’s bridge towards the Banquet Hall, where the ceremony will occur.
A National Party staffer points out the path the new leadership will take – right through the assembled photographers.
Just as the new government’s figureheads come into view the photographers break like waves against ...figureheads.
The photographers are making way for the party leaders, but are also in a race to reach the Banquet Hall and their waiting video cameras before the three grooms arrive there by a different path. RNZ's Sam Rillstone has an early lead in the race.
Early leader Rillstone has diverted for a gear bag leaving ‘Mitch’ Mitchell from the Herald to burst through to the front, reaching for a well-positioned extra lens as he runs.
Moments later, when the leaders reach their podiums before a surfeit of flags, the photographers are already waiting. Panting maybe, but ready.
The Banquet Hall is a grand but odd space that wraps most of the way around the Beehive’s lofty first floor, like a pineapple ring with a cheeky bite taken.
The prime minister-in-waiting gives a short intro outlining this as an historic achievement, an epochal moment of change etc.
The leaders have brought their own cheer section. Sitting off to one side are senior figures from the three parties. For those watching online, their presence explains the confusing moment at the end of the event when it sounds as if the gathered media applaud the incoming ministers. Journalists aren’t big on applause, but the party members and staff attending definitely felt it was deserved.
The best view in the room is not in the room. A few clever people have wandered up to Parliament’s excellent new gallery space (Te Papakura), which hangs over the banquet hall like a corporate box at the rugby.
As first deputy, Winston Peters has the second chance to speak, but after few and general comments, he opts for throwing bon mots and bombs at the media. It feels like the opening quips someone might make while they pat their pockets looking for their speech notes.
David Seymour has brought a lengthy prepared statement; almost a treatise, detailing an array of policy wins, championing the MPs who would be ministers and talking about what needed to and would change.
After a while it begins to feel like the groomsman’s wedding speech is letting the banquet go cold and the guests nod off. Christopher Luxon begins glaring at David Seymour, seemingly willing him to stop. Winston Peters glowers.
Just like a wedding, the chaps getting hitched move across to sign the official documents. None of the traditional wedding signing music plays.
Time for questions. This one was about Paul Goldsmith, who will become Minister for Treaty Negotiations, having once said that ‘on balance’ colonisation was good for Māori.
Across the room in the supporters’ seats Paul Goldsmith is patted on the shoulder. Maybe he is being consoled on remembering that being a minister is a “for better, for worse” deal.
Winston Peters grumps at the press gallery. “You lost!” he declares at one point.
"Just three more questions". Christopher Luxon tries to conclude the ceremony and begin the honeymoon.
Finally, a moment for portraits. This a political wedding, no rings are exchanged, and no-one kisses the groom.