So, here's Tracy Watkins with a devastating article on Hekia Parata. I almost feel sorry for her.
When Hekia Parata was promoted to the education portfolio, she was pegged by some as a future leader, ruffling a few feathers among her colleagues.
All the ingredients were there - a rags to riches back story, professional success and powerful mentors, including Finance Minister Bill English and Prime Minister John Key, who saw in her an echo of his own rise to the top.
But she also had the all important X-factor - supreme self-assurance, an engaging personality and a guffawing laugh that could fill a room.
So, an egotist, in other words. It seems it's the type of politician that makes it in New Zealand, except they have to be able to perform as well. I'm not sure about a guffawing laugh being part of the "X-factor", but maybe Tracy threw that in there just to mock. Certainly the type of person I'd look for would be radically different.
As blunders mounted one on top of the other in the education portfolio, however, Ms Parata's poise deserted her. Hard questions were met with obfuscation and, when under stress, she reached for the bureaucrat's trick of papering over the cracks with jargon.
The pressure began to tell in other, more personal, ways. Beehive insiders talk about a tense and poisonous atmosphere within her ministerial office, brought on by an increasingly demanding minister, who was out of her depth and casting around for others to blame. She churned through several private secretaries and lost a senior adviser just two months into a two-year secondment.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. I don't see how Hekia Parata can survive this sort of thing. The only way to stop it at this point, because politics loves a good savaging, and Hekia Parata's blood is in the water right now, is to fight back effectively (ala Judith Collins and the Binnie Report) or to resign. Going to ground and hoping Christmas (bet there wasn't even a consideration Matariki could do the same thing if this happened mid-year) will smooth things over, is not a good idea. Journalists will come back from holiday and take up where they left off, for want of better stories.
Related link: Parata loses her poise under pressure ~ Dominion Post
UPDATE: The NZ Herald has a piece by Audrey Young that is much softer: Leap-frog minister in a class of her own