OPINION: It's been 33 long days since the polls closed, and despite the reported relationship building that took place in the three weeks while the nation waited for the special votes to be counted, there is still no Government and no end in sight.
Newshub has compiled the greatest hits of the negotiations so far:
1. "Strong and stable" - Christopher Luxon
Skip this song, we've heard it too many times
The one you hear repeatedly on the radio. Day after day.
Wherever Luxon is - whether it be striding through airport terminals, or pacing across Parliament's forecourt on his way into work, you can trust he will regurgitate one of his favourite slogans.
"Good progress", "strong and stable Government", "working hard".
There's no doubt most of the country would have heard these beats by now. There is possibly a bit of doubt they reflect what's actually happening behind closed doors.
2. "Hakuna matata" - David Seymour
The surprise hit
At first listen, you maybe weren’t so sure he was for you - but after a few weeks, he's grown on you.
We've seen more of Seymour than anyone else. He has been the only leader willing to trust the public’s intelligence and patience enough to keep them informed through this arduous process.
He's turned up for every interview and had some zingers along the way.
"We still managed to have a meeting with all three in our home city this morning, so Hakuna Matata," Seymour said.
Your foot's now tapping and you're bopping along.
3. "......" The silent airport strut - Winston Peters
The one you need to crank the volume on
Can't hear a thing. Maybe a sound engineering issue?
For the entire 2:24 minute strut, there's no sound from the crooner himself, just a chorus of questions from the gaggle of waiting journalists and some hustle and bustle.
This was the first time New Zealanders had seen Peters since the election but he refused to give any updates. This track will leave you wanting a little more from Peters - turn it up!!
4. "See a man about a horse" - David Seymour and Winston Peters
The one you've been waiting for
Hotly anticipated, with a big build-up. Two stars of the political stage you never thought would duet.
The moment Newshub spotted Peters leaving the ACT's offices felt like a milestone. After years of feuding, Peters and Seymour were meeting, comparing notes and preparing for a double act to take on National's Christopher Luxon.
But the first meeting was just the opener. The next day Seymour glided (via travellator) to NZ First's turf.
Seymour said he was there to "see a man about a horse".
Just 15 minutes later, Seymour steps out. It was two small meetings for the pair, but a giant leap for the negotiations. No one has heard how the horse is doing.
5. "I have done a lot of mergers and acquisitions" - Christopher Luxon
The one that fell flat
Unilever marketing director. Head of Unilever's Canadian operations. Air New Zealand chief executive.
Luxon was sold as a business boss.
Outcomes. KPIs. Deliverables. He knows the language.
"I have done a lot of mergers and acquisitions," he said the day after the election.
Nearly five weeks later, without a Government, the track doesn't look like it has lived up to the hype.
6. "I think it's increasingly unlikely" - Christopher Luxon
The biggest letdown
Christopher Luxon gave himself a deadline of getting to the economic conference hosted by US President Joe Biden in San Francisco this week.
But he failed to hit his first target saying he needed to stay in New Zealand to form a "strong and stable" Government (see track list above).
It would have been great for Aotearoa to be represented at the conference and for Luxon to rub shoulders with world leaders, but alas.
7. "Great news, I've been to Farmers to buy some underwear" - Shane Jones
The one you didn't need
Back when all the parties were back in Wellington for a big week of talks, Jones had clearly underestimated how long he’d need to spend in the capital and had to dash to Farmers to buy some more undergarments - a mental image no one needed.
8. "Not everyone showed up" - Christopher Luxon and David Seymour, without Winston Peters
The one that shocked you (... or perhaps didn't)
Drama had befallen the trio. Could this band break up before they had even been in the same room together?
Seymour strolled up to reporters at Wellington Airport on Tuesday clearly expecting a meeting with Luxon and Peters.
"There may well be a meeting of three," he mused.
Luxon was in town, but more tight-lipped.
Alas, the third member was AWOL. Peters left his entourage of the NZ First caucus members high and dry in the Treasury building.
Was it a carefully calculated snub? Or just miscommunication?
Peters insists he was just out meeting the Singaporean Foreign Minister.
Luxon and Seymour had to U-turn and jet back to Auckland. Emissions were emitted.
"Not everyone showed up but hey what can you do," Seymour said.
9. The "Photo Op" - Winston Peters feat. Christopher Luxon and David Seymour
The most hyped
Peters enters a room. Luxon and Seymour are there too.
You can hear the sound of the camera click. The long-promised three-way has happened.
Peters posts the image to his fans on Twitter. Untitled. A tease of what is to come. Luxon and Seymour follow but fail to generate as much heat.
Their lines: “good meeting”, "work to do", "serious progress", "a Government is forming”.
More than 30 days in the making for a 30-minute meeting. It's described simply by Seymour as a "photo op".
10. "Debacle of a morning" - Chris Bishop
The one you didn't see coming
Bishop came in hot and flustered after a mare of a morning.
He couldn't find a taxi. Couldn't find an Uber. Could find a coffee. Could find a scooter. Couldn't find the co-ordination to manage them both.
Politicians, they’re just like us.
11. "A deal could be done in a matter of days" - David Seymour (Nov 2, 2023)
The one that keeps getting remixed
The clock keeps resetting on this.
Weeks, hours, days, hours, weeks.
It’s beginning to feel like Groundhog Day. How many days is a matter of days? How many hours is a matter of hours? When does hours become days?