This is not an ordinary leadership change within the National Party.
It’s nothing like the change of leadership in 2016 when the party was in power, polling high numbers, and the outgoing leader – the key architect of that situation – had openly endorsed the next pair of safe hands in the party, thus ensuring that the ship remains steady.
There was not much appetite in the caucus to disturb the status quo or worse, wreck the ship, so hence the result prevailed – and status quo was not disturbed.
The initial show of intent by few aspirants was quickly tempered into a show of solidarity by all members of the caucus.
It’s also nothing like the previous leadership change which had happened almost a good decade ago in 2006, against the backdrop of an electoral drubbing and a consistent media scrutiny about an impending challenge to the party leadership.
To say the least, the party was in opposition for three successive terms, and the leadership was contested and there was an appetite for a leadership change.
The change at that time again fulfilled the popular expectation within the caucus and supporters of the party outside caucus.
Nothing of this sort can be said with confidence about the impending change of leadership in 2018.
The party is still polling high, but sadly languishing in the opposition.
The prevailing leader of the party was standing on a moral high for securing a historic high number of votes for a three-term government and was performing well enough to stave off any public challenge to his position.
Media was also not tearing into its existing leadership, except the last two weeks of murmurs, which eventually translated into the bombshell decision of resignation.
To top it all the outgoing leader has refused to endorse any potential candidate for the leadership position.
How is caucus expected to steady the ship?
By choosing a new leader who claims to belong to a different generation (read younger) but exhibits ‘political and social conservatism’ in action?
By choosing a potential candidate who is promising generational continuity, hence a status quo, plus a self-proclaimed ‘decisive personality’ much needed to challenge the ‘stardust’ of Labour’s Jacinda Ardern in 2020?
Or by opting for a hybrid of everything, who is promising to push the edges of National’s core ideologies to captivate the attention of genX voters who are largely believed to be out of its radar.
If that’s the case, then the question arises if there is an appetite in National’s traditional voter base for accommodating such a push of ideologies.
At least the most recent Newshub-Reid polls showing National Party polling at 44.5 per cent is not reflecting an appetite for any such push beyond the core sensitivities.
Is caucus prepared to ignore that reading of the latest poll?
Indeed, generational change or not, what is certain is that a metamorphic transformation awaits the National Party.
None of the three contestants in the race, or for that matter any possible fourth dark horse in next few days, will have a clear sense of direction to lead the party in.
Should they continue with the status quo? Or should they press for a change?
If change is the chosen recipe, then change of what – personality, policy, generation, or core ideologies?
Nothing of this is unprecedented, and every political party has to mull over this challenge at one stage or the other.
It's only that the National Party is embarking on a self-exploratory journey now.
It will be interesting to see if the next round of change in leadership will have some longevity or will it precipitate a cycle of short tenures and repetitive leadership change.
Either way, a process of metamorphosis is on the cards, and like any metamorphic process should be expected to be painful.