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2016 in politics: the ups and downs, and the year in a sentence

Our glittering garland of experts assess the performance of the political parties, the economy, the media and more – and attempt to sum up 2016 in a single sentence

We asked: for each of the below, would you say they ended the year stronger, weaker, or the same as they started it? And how would you describe the world in 2016, in one sentence?

See also: Our wise owls select the champs and the flops of the political year. Tomorrow: What to expect in 2017.

Shamubeel Eaqub

The National Party

Weaker. Without the charismatic and nimble leader in Key, they will struggle to maintain heady popularity levels.

The Labour Party

Weaker. Still not making progress with the public with new leader Little.

The Green Party

Stronger. James Shaw and others have given the party a more modern and business friendly face.

NZ First

Much stronger. Mostly to do with soaring net migration.

Māori Party

The same. They are pragmatic to be in government, but I don’t know how that will play out with next year’s coalition arrangements if they do a pre-election deal with Mana.

ACT Party

Weaker. Struggling for relevance and exist for the mercy of the National Party in the Epsom electorate. Seymour is making a good job of his leadership and presence in parliament, but his party is struggling to get traction with the general public.

United Future Party

Who?

The Mana Party

Stronger with a Māori party deal.

Auckland

Much stronger. Economy is booming. New mayor is keen to unblock infrastructure and housing. Unaffordable housing a big risk, but a short-term one, rather than existential.

NZ economy

Stronger. Good growth, that is gradually broadening to parts outside of Auckland.

NZ media

Stronger. Old media is still in decline, but have invested in excellent investigative journalism (eg some great pieces by Matt Nippert at the Herald, the Stuff Circuit team). Some great new channels like The Spinoff and launch of the free weekly Paperboy by Bauer in Auckland.

World peace

Worse. Just look at Syria. Look at the refugee crisis in Europe. Look at the election result in the US. World peace is decidedly, and depressingly, at a low ebb.

2016 in one sentence… the year the age of rationality and reason ended in politics.

Shamubeel Eaqub is a bullshit-eviscerating economist

Graeme Edgeler

The National Party

Who really knows? The polls are pretty good in New Zealand, and they haven’t changed a great deal over the last year. Doing well at renewing the cabinet and the caucus.

The Labour Party

Who really knows? I’ve always liked Andrew Little, but whether he has the team on MPs he needs to do well is up in there air. David Shearer is a loss, and it would be good to follow him up with a few others.

The Green Party

With a bunch of new talent lining up trying to take the Greens forward – women like Chlöe Swarbrick, Hayley Holt and Susanne Ruthven – there remain a couple of questions: can the Greens manage a transition to a new generation, and is the new generation actually up to it?

NZ First

If Winston personally extricates the dead from the Pike River Mine, he could become prime minister.

Māori Party

The option for National voters to support to try to avoid a government wholly reliant on Winston? Probably not.

ACT Party

Lucky to have Seymour and not Whyte to lead.

United Future Party

Peter Dunne receives more personal support in his electorate, that United Future received in party votes over the whole country.

The Mana Party

The idea that I would have any insight into how Kelvin Davis and Hone Harawira are viewed by Māori-roll enrolled voters in the North is ridiculous, and I probably shouldn’t have been asked, but how they are seen by them will be key to Mana’s chances.

Auckland

Auckland has never really felt like one city. Next year won’t fix that.

NZ economy

There will be haves and haves less, which way people feel they and their communities are going will be important. Or not.

NZ media

The first rough draft of history has always been a very rough draft. Little things they do will continue to bug me, but it’s not going anywhere. Not next year, anyway.

World peace

Hillary Clinton promised a war with Russia by unilaterally imposing a no-fly zone in Syria (in the areas where Russian planes are flying). That she won’t might suck for people in Syria, but for the world, things could be worse than avoiding a hot war with Russia. Clinton was probably lying when she made the promise, and what Trump means is anyone’s guess. I’m not stupid enough to predict where Trump will take the world, but there’s probably going to be a war over water somewhere at some point in the future.

2016 in one sentence… worse in some respects, but not nearly as crazy as people make out.

Graeme Edgeler is a lawyer, blogger and check on the executive

Emma Espiner

The National Party

Weaker. No more Team Key. But the eerily smooth transition to Bill English arrested the descent into chaos. It will be interesting to see how the unity holds together under the pressure of an election campaign.

The Labour Party

Stronger. No more Team Key. An exciting hint at regeneration with the selection of a quality candidate like Kiritapu Allen @KiriAllan for 2017. A Māori lawyer with a business background? Yes please. Give me some more of that.

The Green Party

A bit stronger. New Zealand’s flight to safety following Trump’s election was in the Greens’ direction. Their subsequent tiptoe into anti-immigration sentiment (they say it was misinterpreted but the effect was the same) reversed this gain among some party members who publicly expressed their disappointment and disillusionment.

NZ First

I can’t bear to even look at NZ First. Its a shallow pool and I doubt 2016 has given it any depth. Undoubtedly (and depressingly) Winston will be buoyed by the rise of a demagogue like Trump.

Māori Party

About the same. The Māori Party will have been relieved to see Bill English appointed prime minister over Judith Collins and Jonathan Coleman. But the Labour Party is still resolutely hostile leaving them with few options should National lose in 2017.

ACT Party

About the same. David Seymour has a talent for inserting himself into debates and having his views amplified at a magnitude unearned by his proportion of the popular vote. He does have the ability to surprise on the upside, for instance in distancing himself from Don Brash and his “Hobson’s Pledge” lot.

United Future Party

I like Peter Dunne, I really do. But I can’t bring myself to care about the state of United Future. For his sake I hope he’s got his 500 members signed up this time.

The Mana Party

Stronger. It appears Hone Harawira has been forgiven for harnessing the Mana Movement horse to the Dotcom carriage. He’ll provide a real contest for Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau and could win the seat back.

Auckland

About the same. Awesome developments like bike paths, recreational facilities’ upgrades, increased public transport capacity and hordes of new immigrants boosting the economy and adding to our city’s diversity are offset by undersupply of housing and inadequate infrastructure.

NZ economy

Stronger. As a result it’s time to loosen the purse springs and spend some money on a) children in poverty b) homeless families c) public transport infrastructure d) tax cuts.

NZ media

Stronger. Reports of its death were exaggerated. The crisis in traditional media has brought more diverse voices and innovation. We are on the cusp of being saved from clickbait and comments sections. Hallelujah.

World peace

Weaker. I’ve started an apocalypse preparation Facebook group. Which I had to join bloody Facebook to do. FML. The apocalypse truly is nigh.

2016 in one sentence…. Is it 2017 yet?

Emma Espiner is a medical student, mother and social commentator

Tau Henare

National

A teenee wee bit less than last year.

Labour

Better.

Greens

The same.

NZ First

Weaker but, hey, it’s not yet election year and they only wake up every three years.

Māori Party

A wee bit better, the party itself is better by far (an election meme if there ever was one).

ACT

Who?

Mana

Same as above.

Auckland

Still growing, without it we are doomed (Dad’s Army doomed).

Economy

Great, imagine no earthquakes. Fuckin’ awesome.

Media

Crap.

World peace

No such thing.

2016 in one sentence… The world feels like it’s buggered. NZ on the other hand is the shining light.

Tau Henare is a former National and NZ First MP and minister of Twitter

Bernard Hickey

The National Party

Weaker.

The Labour Party

Stronger.

The Green Party

About the same.

NZ First

Stronger.

Māori Party

Weaker.

ACT Party

Same.

United Future Party

Weaker.

The Mana Party

Weaker.

Auckland

Stronger (or at least more expensive and crowded).

NZ economy

Stronger (in gross terms, but not in output per hour worked).

NZ media

Weaker (with a lot more job cuts to come regardless of the NZME/Fairfax merger outcome).

World peace

Weaker because of Trump and Brexit and China.

2016 in one sentence… 30 years of globalisation ground to a halt because the half of the developed world that missed out on the benefits of 30 years of economic growth decided it wasn’t working for them.

Bernard Hickey is the editor of Hive News

Laila Harré

The National Party

Weaker, but very aware of that.

The Labour Party

Stronger by far. Green MOU, local elections, Mt Roskill, sorting out key staff, and the confidence-boosting abdication of John Key and chance to show off Jacinda in Mt Albert.

The Green Party

Stronger as a result of MOU, but quieter.

NZ First

Plus ça change, plus la même chose.

Māori Party

Stronger, Tuku Morgan is a match for Te Ururoa Flavell. Prepared to do more than just hang on. The talks with Mana could be decisive next year.

ACT Party

The same.

United Future Party

The blancmange is melting.

The Mana Party

Stronger potential – see Māori Party above.

Auckland

More organised and in better shape to demand Government action.

NZ economy

Total failure by National to transform the economy, we are still at the mercy of milk fat and nowhere near closing wage gap with Australia. Wealth even more concentrated, productivity stagnant, 90k kids live in severe hardship and no improvement to child poverty overall, the school and hospital economies are stretched, Havelock North exposed fragile regional infrastructure, not to mention the huge infrastructure need in Auckland.

NZ media

Appreciating the effort at reflection among political journalists.

World peace

A minute’s silence. I mean that.

Laila Harré is a former Alliance MP turned restaurateur who has just signed up to the Labour Party

Bronwyn Hayward

The National Party

A little weaker.

The Labour Party

A little stronger.

The Green Party

A little stronger.

NZ First

Stronger.

Māori Party

About the same (a little weaker due to loss of significant allies from National but stronger if there is another byelection).

ACT Party

A little weaker but it’s always largely irrelevant until needed for the votes in its electorate seat.

United Future Party

As above.

The Mana Party

Weaker, it will take a long time to recover trust after the Kim Dotcom fiasco.

Auckland

Weaker, mainly due to the unstable and unaffordable housing market.

NZ economy

Fundamentally weaker due to long term structural problems: eg too much reliance on resource extraction, mining, milk and too many long term inequalities.

NZ media

Weaker, but still a few key, independent voices who can make a significant difference.

World peace

Very fragile.

2016 in one sentence… A fragile, wounded and tense place, but still capable of great humanity, hope and beauty despite all the post-truth politics and anger.

Bronwyn Hayward is associate professor in political science at the University of Canterbury

Joshua Hitchcock

The National Party

The same. Reeling from the resignation of John Key, but still riding high in the polls.

The Labour Party

Slightly stronger. John Key’s resignation was an early Christmas present but it will only take a few stagnant polls in early 2017 to highlight the scale of the challenge that still awaits the party.

The Green Party

Weaker. Not through any fault of their own, but the political winds are not blowing their way and the resignation of Kevin Hague is a big blow.

NZ First

Stronger. Winston is on course to be deputy prime minister. Again.

Māori Party

The same. Under attack from the left, could be left out in the cold under the next National-NZ First Government, but the building alliance with the Mana party will shore up their place in parliament.

ACT Party

The same. Correctly predicted the outcome of the US election. Probably the only thing they got right this year.

United Future Party

Stronger; 2017 is election year and, should he run, Peter Dunne is going to get a lot of attention again.

The Mana Party

Stronger. Hone has found another wagon to jump on and should ride this all the way back into parliament.

Auckland

Stronger. The CRL is on its way and in Phil Goff the city might finally have a mayor capable to moving the bloated bureaucracy in a unified direction.

NZ economy

Stronger. Many here in the UK are looking enviously at New Zealand’s economy and contemplating the move over.

NZ media

Weaker. Not that I am paying much attention but the descent of the major outlets into UK-style tabloids appears well under way.

World peace

Stronger. With the UK and USA both focused on destroying themselves from the inside the rest of us have little to worry about.

Joshua Hitchcock is a writer and Head of Finance and Operations at Hubbub.net

Stephen Jacobi

The National Party

Stronger.

The Labour Party

Weaker.

The Green Party

Stronger (James Shaw now the youth candidate for PM).

NZ First

Who?

Māori Party

Same.

ACT Party

Same.

United Future Party

Stronger (gotta love Peter).

The Mana Party

Um?

Auckland

Stronger – but in rush hour, weaker.

NZ economy

Stronger (for longer).

NZ media

Stronger, definitely, yeah, I mean who could argue …

World peace

Weaker and getting worse as each day passes.

Confused.

Stephen Jacobi is a former diplomat, policy adviser, and trade advocate

Nicola Kean

The National Party

Weaker: they’ve lost their key asset (not sorry).

The Labour Party

Stronger: by default.

The Green Party

Weaker: sure they’ve got an MOU and Hayley Holt, but moving towards the centre is creating tension (cf immigration policy).

NZ First

Stronger: Winston’s not done yet.

Māori Party

Stronger: scored a few policy wins and have some interesting candidates for 2017.

ACT Party

Same.

United Future Party

Same.

The Mana Party

Stronger: Hone’s back.

Auckland

Stronger: Marginally. The Unitary Plan’s passed, there’s a new mayor, the City Rail Link’s getting rolling, it feels like stuff is happening here (especially compared to Wellington). All good things that are undermined by housing.

NZ economy

Growth is good compared to other countries, but it seems to be based on immigration and house price inflation – and between Treasury and the Reserve Bank there have been a lot of warnings this year about the track we’re on.

NZ media

Say what you like about certain home pages, a lot of people are working really hard to tell stories that matter. Organisations are investing in proper investigative work and there are some interesting new players.

World peace

Weaker: Trump, need I say more?

2016 in one sentence… What the fuck happened.

Nicola Kean is producer on TV3’s The Nation

Annabelle Lee

The National Party

Weaker, coz John Key.

The Labour Party

Stronger, coz John Key.

The Green Party

Same.

NZ First

Stronger.

Māori Party

Stronger.

ACT Party

Weaker – if that’s even possible.

United Future Party

I’m sorry, who?

The Mana Party

Stronger.

Auckland

Weaker but more expensive

NZ economy

I don’t know how to maths but the whole poverty thing hasn’t gone away has it?

NZ media

With the likes of Māori journalists such as Maiki Sherman and Mihi Forbes on mainstream I would like to think we are stronger.

World peace

Que?

2016 in one sentence… Unpredictable.

Annabelle Lee is executive producer on The Hui and the cleverest person on the Spinoff’s political podcast

Laura O’Connell Rapira

The National Party

Weaker without Key.

The Labour Party

Same.

The Green Party

Stronger with new blood.

NZ First

Stronger with growing anti-establishment mood.

Māori Party

Stronger if the Mana alliance works out.

ACT Party

Same, pretty sure the Humans of Remuera won’t change their ways anytime soon.

United Future Party

Weaker with the Laboureen MOU.

The Mana Party

As above.

Auckland

Same, but heading in a better direction.

NZ economy

Same, property developers still cashing in, and people still living in cars.

NZ media

Better with The Spinoff here.

World peace

Same, sadly :(

Laura O’Connell is ‎director of campaigns at ‎ActionStation

Claire Robinson

The National Party

Stronger.

The Labour Party

Weaker.

The Green Party

Stronger.

NZ First

Stronger.

Māori Party

Same.

ACT Party

Stronger.

United Future Party

Weaker.

The Mana Party

Weaker.

Auckland

Same.

NZ economy

Same.

NZ media

Weaker.

World peace

Same.

2016 in one sentence… In a word, seismic.

Claire Robinson is pro vice-chancellor, Toi Rauwharangi College of Creative Art, Massey University

David Slack

The National Party

Weaker.

The Labour Party

Stronger.

The Green Party

Stronger.

NZ First

DoublePlus Stronger.

Māori Party

Weaker.

ACT Party

Weaker.

United Future Party

Weaker.

The Mana Party

Stronger.

Auckland

Weaker.

NZ economy

Weaker.

NZ media

Weaker.

World peace

Weaker.

2016 in one sentence… Pitchforked.

David Slack is a writer and broadcaster

Tainui Stephens

The National Party

Weaker.

The Labour Party

Weaker.

The Green Party

Same.

NZ First

Same.

Māori Party

Slightly stronger.

ACT Party

Who?

United Future Party

Meh!

The Mana Party

Promising. I like Hone Harawira.

Auckland

Munted.

NZ economy

OK but unsustainable.

NZ media

Fucked.

World peace

Dire.

2016 in one sentence… At the edge of an abyss of our own design and construction.

Tainui Stephens is a film and TV producer and presenter

Ben Thomas

The National Party

Same, with a downgrade warning. Riding high in government with new prime minister and what’s likely to be a rejuvenated cabinet and 2017 campaign line up, but uncertainty with the departure of Key.

The Labour Party

Weaker. The caucus is united, Andrew Little is showing touches of humanity, the government has adopted watered down evrsions of some of its policies in key areas of immigration and housing. Yet the party continued to tank in the polls. Cause for hope with the resignation of Key, who had assumed unkillable movie monster proportions to Labour.

The Green Party

Same. Neck and neck with New Zealand First in rolling out zeitgeist friendly – and foreigner hostile – policy on immigration and trade, some of which has polarized membership. Clearing deadwood, in a sustainable manner, to make room for media-friendly young women candidates.

NZ First

Stronger. As politics in the western world becomes more insular, xenophobic and fearful, all eyes turn to Winston. Most polls show him holding the balance of power next year.

Māori Party

Stronger. Showed the kind of backbone its supporters have wanted for years over the Kermadecs, made gains in the RMA reform for iwi, and new President Tuku Morgan’s machinations could give the party more seats next year by reducing friction with Mana.

ACT Party

Same. Strong year in 2015, the best leader since 2004, but a tough time to be selling free market liberalism.

United Future Party

Same.

The Mana Party

Stronger. Hone has gone from restful slumber to a genuine chance at re-taking Te Tai Tokaerau through an uneasy truce with the Māori Party.

Auckland

Same. Auckland is a vibrant, diverse international city that is by far the best centre in New Zealand so long as you don’t have to live anywhere or get any place. Lucky it has the country’s best cafes to just sit in.

NZ economy

Stronger, but lots of uncertainty.

NZ media

Same. There is terrific stuff being produced by superb journalists, but hard to tell if it’s a roar or a death rattle?

World peace

Curiously continues to spiral down the sinkhole, despite John Key’s speech to the United Nations.

2016 in one sentence… A great reminder that progress isn’t and hasn’t ever been inevitable.

Ben Thomas is a journalist turned political adviser turned PR hack at Exceltium and the cleverest person on the Spinoff’s political podcast

Andrea Vance

The National Party

Weaker without Brand Key.

The Labour Party

The same.

The Green Party

Weaker.

NZ First

The same.

Māori Party

Looking stronger (as opposed to having performed with strength).

ACT Party

The same.

United Future Party

Weaker.

The Mana Party

Incredibly a bit stronger.

Auckland

Weaker.

NZ economy

Better.

NZ media

Weaker.

World peace

WE’RE DOOMED.

Andrea Vance is a political reporter for TVNZ news

Tim Watkin

The National Party

Weaker.

The Labour Party

Same.

The Green Party

Weaker.

NZ First

Stronger.

Māori Party

Stronger.

ACT Party

Stronger.

United Future Party

Same. (Now and forever more. Amen.)

The Mana Party

Who?

Auckland

Stronger.

NZ economy

Same.

NZ media

Weaker.

World peace

#$%*!

2016 in one sentence…

A year which we took seriously but wish we didn’t have to take literally; and homelessness.

Overseas, fear trumped fate. Trump and Farage beat all the odds and sent years of political consensus down the drain. My question is, if fake news helped Trump win, can we pretend he’s a fake president?

[This is an unconventional sentence – ed]

Tim Watkin is executive producer of podcasts and series and bloglord at Pundit

Jamie Whyte

The National Party

Weaker.

The Labour Party

Stronger.

The Green Party

Weaker.

NZ First

Same.

Māori Party

Stronger.

Act Party

Stronger.

United Future

Same.

The Mana Party

Weaker.

Auckland

Stronger (because Of Unitary Plan, not Phil Goff).

NZ Economy

Stronger.

NZ media

Weaker (loss of credibility, blocked merger).

World peace

Trump makes it too uncertain to say.

Jamie Whyte is a writer and former ACT Party leader

Guy Williams

The National Party

Weaker. It’s like John Key was Kobe Bryant and the flag referendum was his last game where he jacked up 60 points. They seem to have no long term fall back plan except for “we can probably still eke out one more term” because the opposition is the Utah Jazz.

The Labour Party

The same. Which is amazing considering recent changes. I just wish they would make a splash, do something… anything! My strategy of cyberbullying them into life doesn’t seem to be working. I have a cynical theory that they know they’re going to loose and everyone is just jockeying for position when they change leadership after the election.

The Green Party

The same. I would like to say they have improved but they’ve decided to tie themselves to Labour so now they look like the National row boat parody of them in the 2014 election ads. Man advertising is effective, and National has all the money and resources to do it!

NZ First

Stronger. Jesus Christ. National weirdly can’t defend or explain their own immigration policies and so they’re back baby! Bill English V Andrew Little is about as appealing as a Duco event undercard and it will take a hot fire Jacinda Ardern DJ gig to stop Winston from getting all of the media coverage in 2017.

Māori Party

Weaker. I hope they achieved what they wanted from two terms with National because in the media spotlight they really cut their own legs off.

ACT Party

The same. People can’t figure out why Seymour gets so much coverage? Talk shit, get hit…s. Online. He has strong opinions and says crazy stuff.

United Future Party

Weaker. Surely Peter Dunne is going to lose his seat?

The Mana Party

The same? Is this a typo? Are they still a thing?

Auckland

Stronger. The Blues are getting Sonny Bill.

NZ economy

Stronger. The Trump Presidency is great news for our biggest export “Actors who can play Mexicans but are not actually Mexicans.”

NZ media

Weaker. And it infuriates me that one of the big news companies won’t make a seperate clickbait free websites for the actual good journalism they still produce. On the positive side it looks like Radio New Zealand is poised to become a significant news website.

World peace

No idea, but I’m very nervous.

2016 in one sentence… If they’re the idiots then how come they’re beating us?

Guy Williams is a tall comedian, broadcaster and writer

Simon Wilson

The National Party

Stronger. Blinglish and Bennett are already having a high old time and they will quickly become very popular, although there is always the risk he becomes too boring and she too horrible.

The Labour Party

Weaker. Because not stronger when they really, really should have been.

The Green Party

Same. Got the MOU which is significant but haven’t translated it into more support which is also significant.

NZ First

Stronger.

Māori Party

Weaker. Hone will damage them – with the sidelining of Marama Fox he’s started to do that already.

ACT Party

Weaker. Really, what is the point?

United Future Party

Weaker. Tide’s going out.

The Mana Party

Stronger. Clever Hone.

Auckland

Stronger. Better mayor and better council too.

NZ economy

Weaker. We’re further behind on adapting economically to climate change, fixing the distortions caused by property, diversifying away from dairy, growing the tech sector and taxing fairly. Also, a surplus gained by cruelly ignoring the worst afflicted is a terrible thing to crow about.

NZ media

Weaker.

World peace

OMG weaker.

2016 in one sentence… Jokes are quite useful but way too many people getting hurt.

Simon Wilson is a writer and former editor of Metro