New book Stardust and Substance tracks Jacinda Ardern's rise to the top

Ms Ardern on the day she became Labour leader, alongside deputy Kelvin Davis.
Ms Ardern on the day she became Labour leader, alongside deputy Kelvin Davis. Photo credit: Getty/ file

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reflected on the seven weeks of chaos that was the 2017 election campaign in her contribution to the new book Stardust and Substance.

Ms Ardern expresses her gratitude to former leader Andrew Little, expresses her dislike of the term 'Jacindamania' and hits out at National over the infamous 'fiscal hole'.

Stardust and Substance, a reflection on the 2017 election edited by Stephen Levine and published by Victoria University Press, will be released on Thursday.  

In an excerpt published on The Spinoff, Ms Ardern pays tribute to former Labour leader and now Minister Andrew Little who backed her to be leader after he resigned.

"He offered me nothing but support and welfare check-ins through the whole campaign. He didn't disappear; instead, he worked," Ms Ardern says.

"People often interpret politicians as being where they are in order to pursue their own personal position and ambitions. Andrew is living proof that that is not always true."

She reveals that Labour's election campaign plan was essentially decided within an hour, during the first press conference she gave after becoming leader in which she asked journalists for "72 hours" to come up with policies and a plan.

"Interestingly, when I reflect back on those 72 hours, much was decided on day one. Not just day one, but hour one. It was in that first press conference that we laid the foundation for our campaign," she says.

She does not like the term 'Jacindamania' that many journalists and commentators picked up during the election campaign.

"I don't believe movements are ever about one person - they are about a mood, a sentiment, and an opportunity. It was about New Zealanders seeing a real possibility for a fairer, more optimistic future for the country. My goal was to try and channel that, and respond to it."

It's clear she's won't forgive National for the infamous "billion-dollar hole" claim and writes that it's the "one exception" to what was a "good genuine contest of ideas".

She hits out at them for "suggesting we would increase income taxes when we'd explicitly promised to leave income tax rates exactly where they were" and for how they "repeatedly referenced a non-existent $11.7 billion fiscal hole".

She thinks National's claims about tax put doubts in people's minds, "perhaps just enough to make some of those who may have considered a change of government retreat".

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard has the first word in Stardust and Substance, and politicians across the spectrum including Winston Peters, Bill English, Peter Dunne, David Seymour, Te Ururoa Flavell and James Shaw also have chapters.  

There are contributions from overseas onlookers, commentators, academics, journalists, and cartoonists.