Former MP Georgina Beyer has opened up about the shame she felt at having to sign up for the unemployment benefit.
Beyer, the world's first transgender Member of Parliament, spoke to TVNZ's Marae programme from hospital, where she was receiving hemodialysis for kidney failure.
Beyer, a former Carterton Mayor, was a Labour MP from 1999 to 2007 during which time she took a prominent role in bringing in prostitution reform and civil union legislation.
She abandoned a bid for the Wellington mayoralty in 2013 after being diagnosed with chronic kidney failure.
In 2010 she lost her job, was forced to sell her house and went on the dole.
"After 20 or 30 years of not having to rely on a benefit, I was suddenly walking into a WINZ office and the shame was incredible," she told Marae.
"The last time I had been in that office I was the local member escorting the Prime Minister through and the staff couldn't believe I was coming in and asking to be signed up for the dole.
"They were embarrassed for me. It torments me, this [bad health] I can explain, but not that. It destroyed a piece of my soul.
"People I used to know in my political life would all but cross the road, avoid me. I hate that about people, I really do."
In the lead-up to the 2014 election Beyer announced her health was good enough for her to stand for the Mana Party in Te Tai Tonga. She later criticised the Internet Mana alliance, saying she formed negative views of party backer Kim Dotcom after getting to know him on the campaign trail.