In 1999 Georgina Beyer changed the face of the very traditional Wairarapa electorate when she became the first transsexual member of any parliament in the world.
The odds may have seemed insurmountable, but Ms Beyer, a former prostitute and transsexual, achieved the impossible.
Standing for Labour in the National stronghold, Ms Beyer said it was a remarkable time.
"In 1999, Wairarapa had come through an economic decline, businesses were closing, shops were empty and I think the electorate needed some sense of invigoration and certainty," she said.
Standing against National's Paul Henry, Ms Beyer said she didn't think her bid for Parliament would be successful.
"I took on the Labour nomination on the condition I could wave a few flags and I was gobsmacked when I won the seat," she said.
Beyer surprised political commentators to win our traditional right-leaning electorate with a 3033-vote majority over Henry.
"Paul Henry left the Wairarapa and gave the finger to us all," she said.
At the 2002 election, Ms Beyer was easily re-elected with an increased majority of 6372 votes.
Labour has only held the Wairarapa seat three times in the past, but Beyer is hoping the fourth time will come if Labour's Kieran McAnulty wins the seat in the general election next Saturday.
Recovering from a kidney transplant in April, Ms Beyer is currently living in Wellington, but is still keeping an eye on "her" electorate.
"In 1999 there was a sense of feeling a bit neglected in the regions and Wairarapa was no different," she said.
"When you get small and medium businesses and manufacturing closing down, it's time for a change. Then and now, health was a hot issue for this electorate.
"The Dannevirke and Pahiatua hospitals had closed, but out of that emerged the new integrated health service and the Dannevirke Community Hospital, one of the best.
"There were the difficult school closures and mergers and I grizzled and squealed at the time to Trevor Mallard, then Education Minister. I even grizzled in the Dannevirke News about the lack of consultation and how unhappy so many people were with the options. The closures stopped before they were about to begin in the South Island and I hope some of my bitching was the reason."
MS Beyer said she loved visiting isolated, rural schools and getting out and meeting people and she sees this as a strength of current Wairarapa Labour candidate Mr McAnulty.
"He's lived in the Wairarapa most of his life. I knew his mother well, especially when we set up SuperGrans when I was mayor of Carterton," Ms Beyer said.
"I knew Kieran as a little tot. After the last election I told him to hang in and it's his more personal touch which resonates. I believe it's really important for candidates to take the initiative and get out to pubs in places like Wimbledon."
Ms Beyer hasn't ruled out a return to politics, not on the national stage, but rather at local body level.
"I wouldn't mind getting back in there and I still have quite a passion for it," she said.
"I do like rural areas and while Wellington is my hometown, my 20 years in the Wairarapa was special and I've always said I'm going back there.
"I've even considered standing for the Tararua District Council in the next local body elections."
The fourth-largest general electorate in the North Island, the Wairarapa electorate comprises the communities of Featherston, Greytown, Carterton, Martinborough, and Masterton and the Tararua towns of Pahiatua, Woodville, Dannevirke, and Norsewood.
A change to the electorate's northern boundary in 2007 saw the inclusion of the Central Hawke's Bay towns of Waipawa, and Waipukurau.
In the 2014 election, National's Alastair Scott's winning margin over Labour's Kieran McAnulty was 6771. And with the Wairarapa electoral contest predicted to be a close, two-horse race between Mr Scott and Mr McAnulty, all eyes will be on key Dannevirke booths next Saturday.
Mr McAnulty said his team will be keeping an eye on Dannevirke, especially the returns from booths at Huia Range School and The Hub.
"Dannevirke is a real priority for us," he said. "We have sensed a real mood for change in Dannevirke and an appreciation that we have given it the attention it deserves. If we win Dannevirke, we win the seat. That is how we are viewing things. Dannevirke is this electorate's bellwether, because if Dannevirke has turned our way then other towns will too."
National also sees Dannevirke as a significant pointer with party officials believing the bellwether booth will be Dannevirke South School.
Associate Professor Grant Duncan of Massey University says he believes Mr Scott will make it back into Parliament.
"There are controversial issues in the electorate, especially around clean rivers and lakes and Labour's proposed water tax," he said.
"Pundits think elections are really boring but in the past two elections we've had scandals, including the John Key tea party. These things are amazingly distracting, but in the end they barely made a difference. However, this time it's completely different. The Jacinda effect has had an unprecedented effect on polling."
Mr Duncan said it's fairly predictable there will be an uptick in voter turnout next Saturday.
"But it's not only the results on the night, but who actually gets to form a Government," he said.
Hawke's Bay-based political strategist and campaign manager Simon Lusk said Mr Scott's win was as a result of a National campaign and a poor Labour campaign.
He said the most noticeable feature of the Wairarapa seat was the impact of NZ First's Ron Mark, who received over 8500 votes.
"This is one of the highest number of votes a minor party candidate has received in recent elections.
"The same three candidates, Scott, Mark and Labour's Kieran McAnulty, are all running again in 2017. Having three relatively strong candidates makes it hard to challenge an incumbent, although Labour's McAnulty is extremely well regarded a candidate and will likely end up in Parliament as a list MP if he does not win the seat. "
Massey University political commentator Dr Andy Asquith believes young people suddenly have a voice, which will contribute to the lift in voter turnout this year.
"House prices nationally and young people saddled with tuition fees are all important issues," he said.
"A large number of our graduates are going overseas and not returning and as a nation we need to stand up and address these issues.
"In a conversation recently with a friend, he told me his father, in his 90s, has voted for National all his life, but is voting Labour this time because he's worried about the future for his grandchildren."