It’s now out in the open; the historic and bitter schism that runs right through the heart of the Auckland National Party.
On the one hand is the party establishment epitomised by people like Michelle Boag and on the other, the heirs to the group that were once called the Tamaki Mafia, best epitomised by the Slater family.
It’s a classic insider-outside division.
And then there’s John Palino also an outsider with what is best described as a colourful reputation.
So earlier this year when he cast around looking for support to run for mayor the insiders ran away as fast as they could.
At the end of the day the insiders’ first priority is to protect and help John Key and the Government stay in power.
The insiders tend to be stereotypical Nats; comfortably off middle class conservatives. Some are snobs, more than a few went to private schools but they are generally well mannered and tend to respect the rules.
The Tamaki Mafia has its origins in the Tamaki electorate when Sir Robert Muldoon was MP and were the core of what he liked to call “Rob’s Mob”.
They were not stereotypical Nats.
Up against some of the big names of the Auckland division of the party like the Herald owning Horton family, the Tamaki Mafia were more modest people. Clem Smich had been a policeman; David Morris ran a small rental car company and John Tremewan was a Teachers’ College lecturer.
During the 70s, debates in what was then the Auckland Division of the party were evenly divided bitter affairs between the Tamaki Mafia-led supporters of Muldoon’s highly interventionist, state capitalism view of the economy and a younger free market group who looked to MPs like Jim McLay for inspiration and party leaders like Sue Wood.
Over those years Ms Boag acted as a sort of party whip for the free market group.
However during the 80s, John Slater – father of Whaleoil --- became Auckland Divisional Chairman and then in 2001 after the 1998 defeat went on to chair the party as a whole.
But, and this is the key to much of what is happening now, the free marketers struck back. First Ms Boag rolled Mr Slater in 2001 to take over the presidency.
And then with her encouragement, caucus elected the right wing Don Brash as leader in 2003.
The Slaters and some of their close supporters and what was left of the Tamaki Mafia retired hurt but bitter and from what we can see now, plainly bent on revenge.
It was an odd grouping.
John Slater had not been part of the Tamaki Mafia in its hey day. Indeed he was were very much party establishment.
But after Boag rolled him, he obviously felt excluded from the party's inner core.
In a post on Sunday on Kiwiblog, Cameron “Whaleoil” Slater, discussing the Brown/Palino affair said: “Hamish (Price, MP Nicky Kaye’s Campaign Manager) is the unnamed National party source…a man closely connected to Michelle Boag and someone who hates me, my father and anyone connected to us.
“If Bevan Chuang thought that she was manipulated by Luigi Wewege then she ain’t seen nothing yet as the Boag/Price machine ramps up the smears.
“There is a good chance that we now know the identity of the mystery texter now too…and then the pieces all fit together. “
Now remember, these people are all supporters of the same political party.
It is abundantly clear from what we have seen as we have poured our way through literally hundreds of text and Facebook messages and pictures, and talked to the participants that the Slater group genuinely believe what Cameron said on “The Nation” on Saturday discussing the future of Auckland politics.
“Auckland politics is the same as where any politics is, in that it's a dirty disgusting despicable game, and it involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels,” he said.
“And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn't.”
That should be enough to send a shiver through the Beehive.
Simply the National Party now has a group of its supporters who give every appearance of going rogue.
Maybe that’s why one source has suggested to us that it was actually a National MP who first led to Len Brown being tipped off the week before the Council election that a major sex scandal was going to break.
Other sources tell us that senior Nats who are in the loop have been tipping associates of the Mayor off as to what might come next.
You get the picture from Michelle Boag this weekend on “Q+A”.
“Whatever was going on with John Palino and the Slaters is nothing to do with the National Party.”
If people like Michelle Boag have decided that Cameron Slater is toxic --- and she probably concluded that a while ago, the next question will be whether his supporters in Parliament, particularly Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson also decide to put some distance between themselves and him.
If they do, that will be a signal that the heirs to the Tamaki Mafia have taken a big hit.
If they don’t then National’s civil war in Auckland will continue to smoulder away in the background ready to flare at any moment that Whaleoil decides.