Swiping on the Green warpaint: the Greens go head-to-head with an old foe
ANALYSIS: They've spent a week baiting NZ First, but don't think Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei's lobbing of the word "racism" to Winston Peters wasn't deliberate.
As the Greens gather for their election-year annual conference in Auckland this weekend, rank and file will be keen to dispel the ghosts of 2014.
The one party to keep above the fray in a campaign that saw the introduction of the term "Dirty Politics", and barely a boost to their vote-share to show for it.
Co-leaders Turei and James Shaw will be determined not to let the same thing happen again. To that end, the party's annual conference is likely to be a tub-thumping affair, and may even call to traditional Green roots that in recent years have been actively played down.
It's understood key policy announcements will be made on both Saturday and Sunday of the conference. And with a resurgent Winston Peters, they may double-down on Turei's comments a week prior that NZ First's policies were "racist".
Peters was understandably rankled, threatening unnamed "consequences". It doesn't take much to recall the post-election events of 2005 where Labour shunned the Greens at Peters' demand, to form a third-term Government.
But the two parties will be competing for airtime as their conferences clash this weekend. And throughout the course of the election the parties will continue to vie for strengthened hands.
It might appear a foolhardy move on Turei's part, but the benefits could outweigh those risks.
Just so long as they don't replicate 2005, where mudslinging reached such vicious tones there was no way Peters and the Greens leadership could sit at the same table.
Why? It appeals to a quiet, but not insignificant core of Labour supporters who are not easy with NZ First's whistling on issues to do with immigration.
There's also a reasonable chance both the Greens and NZ First could end up entertaining similar post-election negotiations with Labour. And if the Greens do get passed over they need make it known early they won't stand for it.
That way, if the worst in their mind happens; that Peters props up a fourth-term National Government because the Greens refused to sit outside and agree to back them confidence and supply, then Labour can't feign surprise and shift blame.
When leader Andrew Little and deputy Jacinda Ardern are sitting across the table from Turei and Shaw, saying "are you happy now?"
"Are you happy that National is back in power, because you refused to cooperate?
"Are you happy that inequality will worsen, that families will continue to struggle and that well spend another three years heckling on the Opposition benches because you couldn't play ball with Winston?"
If the worst for them eventuates, then at the very least the Greens can say "we still have our dignity - what did you expect"?