Parliament had a first day of school feeling despite nearing the end of the year.
MPs yesterday found their new seats for the first time since the election, with the biggest change being the side of the chamber many were sitting on.
With National's victory came a reversal of the seating order, with National MPs taking over the seats to the right of the Speaker where Labour had sat for the past nine years.
It was Prime Minister John Key's first chance to sit in his predecessor Helen Clark's seat, with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English occupying former finance minister Michael Cullen's place.
Looking across at them from Key and English's old seats were new Labour leader Phil Goff and deputy Annette King, while sitting behind them in the second row, but out of camera shot were Clark and Cullen.
It was a case of musical chairs for most of the 122 MPs, including 35 newbies, with ACT gaining two front-bench slots and the Maori Party taking over seats previously occupied by Labour.
The only MPs to keep their seats from the previous term were the Greens, who remain on the cross-benches to the left of the Speaker a place they now share with Labour and Wigram MP Jim Anderton.
MPs' friends and family packed the public gallery yesterday for the formal swearing-in ceremony, which was done in groups alphabetically, leading to some interesting pairings.
National's Jacqui Dean recited her oath of allegiance to the Queen with ACT MP Roger Douglas and United Future leader Peter Dunne, while Labour leader Phil Goff recited his with National's Sandra Goudie and Jo Goodhew.
Key himself gave his oath alongside King, after which the pair shook hands.
Maverick Maori Party MP Hone Harawira again swore his allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi and his constituents rather than the Queen, before repeating the oath in Maori.
Labour's Darren Hughes also found himself giving his oath in Maori after being paired with former Maori affairs minister Parekura Horomia.
MPs elected long-serving National MP Lockwood Smith as Parliament's 29th Speaker unopposed before adjourning for the formal state opening of Parliament today.
Smith abandoned the tradition of appearing reluctant to approach the Speaker's chair a hangover from the days when a Speaker could lose his head if he displeased the executive.
However, he warned MPs he would uphold standards of behaviour in the House.
Parliament will sit for two weeks before rising for the summer break on December 19.
- © Fairfax NZ News
How important is NZ's anti-nuclear policy to you?Related story: It's all good, just don't mention the nukes