Labour-Greens carry off State of the Nation double-act
OPINION: For an hour or so in Mt Albert something almost unnatural happened on Sunday.
A wary love all but broke out between two political parties.
It was always going to be something of a risk to share the stage for the scene-setting election year state of the nation speeches - more so for Labour than the Greens.
Andrew Little, as the alternative prime minister in waiting, could always be guaranteed a decent media hit from his appearance, but the Greens have at times struggled to get much traction with their year-opener, even when they chose the more grandiose State of the Planet.
And then there is the risk - and the internal Labour sensitivities - about pushing the relationship too hard, especially with the spectre of NZ First leader Winston Peters lurking in the wings waiting to veto any Greens' role in government as the price of installing Little in premier house.
As it was, the parties pulled the event off reasonably well.
The Mt Albert memorial hall was jam-packed and hot, the crowd were enthusiastic for both leaders and the symbolism of the leadership, candidates, and hand-picked "diversity", on the stage as a backdrop, sent the right message of two parties prepared to work together to change the Government. even the placards waved by supporters were matching in size, shape and design - red for him, green for her.
Greens co-leader Metiria Turei - either by accident or design - was far from stealing Little's limelight. Her speech was much shorter, the curtain raiser really, and - while enthusiastically received - it hit no great heights.
By comparison Little's was more forceful and more personal.
He didn't endorse her for deputy, or any other role for that matter.
She was unequivocal in backing him as prime minister and went so far as to praise him as the sort of "straight up, decent guy" the country needed as its next leader after some strong words about "calling out" United States President Donald Trump at the post-event media scrum.
In fact there was clearly strong common ground between them on refugees and what Little called "a better path than isolation and bigotry" represented by politicians like Trump - who at times was an almost palpable presence in the packed hall.
Warm-up act comedian Guy Williams referred to him as the "man who shall not be named" and the sign language translator got one of the biggest laughs with her sign for Trump - a sort of up-flick of the hand above the forehead, in an obvious reference to his comb-forward.
Both also launched into Prime Minister Bill English over similar issues; his planned no-show at Waitangi, leadership and his response when asked if he was a feminist.
Despite obvious differences on issue like membership of the Five Eyes security network - now with Trump's America - neither fell into any hostile disagreement during post-match media quizzing.
As election year symbolism of their closer cooperation it was all they could have hoped for.
Now the game moves on to the February 25 Mt Albert by-election to ensure the Jacinda Ardern-Julie Anne Genter face-off does not allow their acknowledged competition to trump their public show of affectionate cooperation.