The noisy and riotous Aro Valley debate has returned this election with no restrictions on numbers, but without one of its traditions.
Attendees have in the past been given water pistols to soak candidates who go over their allotted time (or, in some cases, they simply just don't like).
This year, the pistols were replaced with a sole super-soaker and a plant spritzer bottle, held by timekeepers at the side of the stage.
An organiser conceded despite tradition and playful intent, they were unsure shooting politicians with water pistols was a great idea.
The 2020 debate took place while Wellington was in Covid-19 Alert Level 2, with strict social distancing precautions and a cap on numbers.
On Friday night, back to full numbers, and with the crowd spilling outside, there were even no seats for the would-be MPs, who had to settle for sitting on the stage.
There was an all-new frontline of candidates, with Labour's Grant Robertson and the Greens' James Shaw opting to contest the election list-only, National's Nicola Willis moving to contest the Ōhāriu electorate, and ACT's Brooke van Velden contesting Tamaki instead.
This time, Shaw watched on from the audience - and asked a patsy question to Green Party candidate Tamatha Paul on whether she was standing on the Green Party list (she is not).
"And why are you so awesome?" he continued.
Shaw was later given a reprieve, and asked a question on National's so-called 'climate dividend', an issue he has litigated in Parliament all week.
While a safe Labour seat, the Green Party believes it can flip it with city councillor Paul standing in the seat.
Her main contenders will be Labour list MP Ibrahim Omer, and National's Scott Sheeran, a lawyer who has recently returned to New Zealand from Abu Dhabi.
They were joined on the stage by candidates from the Opportunities Party, New Zealand First, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, Vision NZ, and a candidate standing under the banner of Workers Now.
The residents of Aro Valley, a Green hotspot in the red seat, naturally favoured Paul, though Omer and TOP's Natalia Albert also received a favourable reception.
Omer was the first candidate to cop a soaking, after running over time in his opening introduction.
Albert, who often ran over her time, conceded she was unlikely to win the seat, instead encouraging attendees to give their candidate vote to Paul and their party vote to TOP.
Stretching over the two-hour mark, the debate often turned restless, perhaps due to the audience not being able to express their feelings with the water pistols.
The first question was about keeping transgender women out of women's sports, which drew a furious reaction from much of the audience and most of the candidates.
"I'm so sorry you have to listen to this bulls**t," Paul told the audience, to a cheer.
The candidates were also canvassed on what their parties would do on tax, healthcare, housing, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, climate change, a living wage, and public transport.
Predictably, right-leaning candidates such as Sheeran, Vision NZ candidate Meg Lim, and NZ First candidate Taylor Arneil were the primary targets of the crowd's heckling, though Omer did not escape criticism when saying he would like to "do more" on certain issues, when Labour has been in power for six years.
"If you're asking me if it's enough? It's not enough, more needs to be done, we're doing more," he said on housing, later giving a similar answer on wages.
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis party co-leader Michael Appleby's responses often related to (wait for it) legalising cannabis, though at one point he took the microphone and asked his fellow candidates whether they had ever smoked it (they all said yes).
Sheeran, who pitched himself as a socially liberal and Blue Green candidate, with a background in human rights, was accused of being in the wrong party.
"I'm really not such a bad guy," he shrugged.
Sheeran went in to bat for kererū for Bird of the Year, and called for more Taylor Swift concerts in New Zealand, but on most answers, he sung from the National song sheet.
"We have to lift our prosperity, we have to increase incomes, we have to improve the jobs, we can do better in this country, and that's what National's going for," he said, before realising he was staring down the barrel of the water gun.
Lim and Arneil often drew laughs when explaining their party was yet to announce a policy on a certain issue.
Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau asked what the candidates would do for the city.
"My work as a city councillor, or with the city council won't end because I'm the MP for Wellington Central, in fact it will accelerate that," said Paul.
To show the timekeepers' strict adherence to the rules, a member of the audience who took too long to ask a question on National's tax cuts plan was also sprayed.