Okay now we have final results, who are the winners and losers amongst the party leaders.
Helen Clark. Never mind that it will be tougher to govern – that is preferable to not governing. She has her precious third term, and a secure legacy.
Pita Sharples. Beat John Tamihere (for which Labour will be indefinitely grateful) and has become a full co-leader with Tariana. They will both be very happy with where they are, and will be planning to grab the other three Maori seats in 2007. Actually by then there may be nine Maori seats up for grabs!
Winston Peters. He lost half his Caucus and his seat. Even worse he was looking for a while to be capable of getting 15% and becoming the major third party. And all wounds were self inflicted.
Peter Dunne. Only three MPs was pretty much wose case scenario. He has spent a decade gobbling up minor parties (at last count around nine of them) to become a centrist party like the German Free Democrats. Hard to see how to bounce back well from this.
The Greens. They lost a third of their caucus, including possibly their most identifiable MP. They are unlikely to be in Cabinet and, if not, merely one of four minor supporting parties.
Jim Anderton. Losing Matt Robson means the party dies with Jim. It has no future.
Don Brash. Lost an election, and will be kicking himself somewhat as it arguably certainly could have been won. Will have to face constant agre-related speculation about his leadership for the next 18 months, but if he rides that out and National takes a lead in the polls no-one will care about his age. Achieving an 18% growth in the party vote and winning ten more electorate seats will keep him as a revered leader for some time.
Rodney Hide. In one sense a electoral disaster as they lost a bigger proportion of Caucus than any other party, but by keeping ACT in Parliament at all, Rodney will be fairly happy. And holding Epsom will give them the security of not worrying every poll about whether they are over 5%.