The day before millions of New Zealanders cast their votes, Opposition Leader Jacinda Ardern took time out to attend her grandmother's funeral.
"That loss right in the middle of a campaign was just a really acute reminder of the fact that there are so many things that are far more important than politics," she told ABC News.
The 37-year-old has had a rollercoaster ride these last two months.
In early August, she took over from departing leader Andrew Little, with Labour's polling on the slide.
Within a fortnight she was dealing with an international spat with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who accused New Zealand Labour of conspiring against the Australian Government during the Barnaby Joyce citizenship debacle.
"When the issue was raised on Australian soil that we had interfered, I was very quick to correct the record," she said.
"Our relationship with Australia is too important to let politics get in the way of it."
At the time, Ms Ardern chastised her colleague Chris Hipkins for getting too close to the drama.
She never spoke one-on-one with Ms Bishop but tried to clear the air publicly.
Associate Professor Grant Duncan from Auckland's Massey University said it was a well-seized opportunity.
"She assured the New Zealand public that our relationship with Australia is a solid one and it's never going to be questioned," he said.
"Julie Bishop really handed Jacinda Ardern an opportunity there — Jacinda carried it off really well and that was the end of the issue."
Ardern's diplomacy 'very attractive', TV star partner says
Pushing a young centre-left leader to the front of the pack certainly paid off for Labour, with early polling even putting Ms Ardern in front of Prime Minister Bill English.
But days away from the September 23 election, it looked as though the honeymoon was over and Labour had slipped back below 40 per cent.
"When you're in opposition, the only thing that really matters is whether you get over the line in the polls on election day — so that's my complete focus until Saturday," Ms Ardern said.
"Maybe somewhere down the track I'll have a little bit of time to reflect on the past seven weeks."
Her partner — television presenter Clarke Gayford — has kept a relatively low profile throughout the campaign.
Talking to New Zealand media earlier this month he described her diplomacy as "attractive".
"She's very, very good at helping understand what a problem is from both sides so there's something very luring and very attractive about that," he said.
"I enjoy hard work but I didn't realise what hard-hard work was.
"Her alarm's going off at 5:30am just about every single morning and she'll be in bed at 10:30-11pm at night going through notes.
"There are some people that really 'go' Jacinda and really unfairly sometimes and it is hard to sit and watch that but when she comes home, it's very hard to match that level so I get a pretty easy ride," he joked.
'I'm not willing to do politics as usual'
The Auckland-based MP grew up in the rural town of Morrinsville.
She left the Mormon church in her 20s and lived abroad in the United Kingdom, where she became mates with the now Green Party leader James Shaw.
"We've got a good working relationship," Mr Shaw said.
"We're in the same generation so we've got very similar ideas about how the world works and how it ought to be."
Unlike the Catholic Prime Minister, Ms Ardern said she believes abortion should be decriminalised, telling the audience during the early September debate that it "shouldn't be in the Crimes Act".
And she is not letting ageism get in the way of reaching the top job.
"I've been in politics for nine years, I've had more experience than our last Prime Minister before he became leader of his party," she said.
"Yes, relative to other politicians, I am a bit younger but I think that brings benefits too.
"I'm not willing to do politics as usual — I do bring a different approach, I favour being able to collaborate where I can."
She has urged all New Zealand expats not to watch this election from the sidelines.
"Having been a New Zealander abroad, you maintain that interest and that love of your home," she said.
"Regardless of when you last lived here, please keep using your voice — it's important, it matters."