She is New Zealand's longest serving female MP and has just been recognised in the New Year Honours. Dame Annette King tells Lee Umbers what has driven a remarkable political career.
Freshly elected as a Member of Parliament, Annette King ignored a warning she was risking her political career and followed her conscience to support the Homosexual Law Reform Bill.
It was her first term in rural Horowhenua and she was told that if she voted for reform she wouldn't win the 1987 election. She remained determined to vote with her conscience and went on to increase her majority.
Three decades on, and by now New Zealand's longest-serving woman MP, King was in her final year in politics when she received a touching acknowledgment from a man whose life had been blighted by a conviction over his sexuality.
With the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform Act, Parliament decriminalised consensual sex between men aged 16 and over. But convictions for offences before that time remained on record and could appear in criminal history checks.
A bill introduced to Parliament last year, however, will allow men to apply to the Secretary of Justice to have their convictions quashed.
"A man had come to me years before in my electorate office in Miramar to tell me how terrible it was that he'd been convicted because he was gay," King says.
"His house had been entered in the early hours of the morning by the police, and he was in bed with his partner. They were both arrested and found guilty of lewd behaviour. That was a stain on his record for the rest of his life."
The man, who had been arrested in the 1960s, expressed his gratitude to King for her support, after the bill's introduction. "He came and personally thanked me. Which really - closed the circle for me, from all those years ago when he'd been so badly hurt by what was happening to him."
In 2016, King made her "biggest" decision, announcing she would not stand again in Rongotai. "I was 24 years there and it was very much part of me and I was part of it."
Initially intending to stand as a list MP, she decided in early 2017 to step down completely. "I went to (then Labour leader) Andrew Little and said I wanted to step aside as deputy.
"And I said at the time, 'And I'll leave Parliament as well. I will be 70 by the election and it's time I went'.
"I was never asked to leave, and I was never pushed, as some tried to claim later on. It was totally my decision and it was probably one of the best decisions I've made, because look at the Government we've got today."
She was replaced as deputy by the present Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
King says Ardern, who she accompanied on the 2017 general election campaign trail, is "the genuine article".
Ardern brings "a formidable brain, she brings a generation shift".
"She also brings an empathy with people that you don't often see in politicians. It's not just in public occasions, it's her thoughtfulness about people, her caring about what's happening to friends and colleagues.
King says Ardern's prgnancy is the icing on the cake after an outstanding year.
"For as long as I've known Jacinda she has loved babies," King says. "If there is a baby in the room it is a magnet to her. I have no doubt Jacinda will not only make a great PM but a mum as well.
"Seldom have I seen a person so capable of undertaking any challenge put in front of them."
The pair have been friends for years, Ardern even buying King clothes.
"She'd see something, and she'd say, 'I've bought you a jacket, it's a such-and-such jacket and it's half price in the sale'.
"And then we'd joke, to make sure that I didn't wear the jacket that was the same as hers on the same day."
King says she will miss "people and friends" from Parliament. "The day-to-day contact that you have with your colleagues, and the organisations and activities you are involved in as an MP."
But she won't miss the long hours and the consequent toll on family.
"That's probably the thing that I often regret, the sacrifice the family had to make, and particularly my young daughter (Amanda)."
Now 47, and a financial fraud investigator in Sydney, Amanda was a Wellington under-16 water polo representative. When her team competed in Australia, King was unable to accompany her like other parents because she had to be in Parliament.
King is now relishing having "more time for (husband) Ray and more time for my family. I've got two wonderful sisters and of course our grandchildren who are the focus of our life at this moment."
Amanda and her husband Tim Parsons have a son William, 8. And King's husband Ray Lind, who she has been with for 18 years, has four grandchildren.
She met Lind on a blind date set up by fellow MP, and now Christchurch mayor, Lianne Dalziel and her husband, Rob Davidson, who worked with Lind in the engineers' union.
King had been single for about 20 years at the time.
"I didn't think I'd ever marry again. In fact I told Ray on our first date that I didn't intend to ever marry again, and he said he didn't know he'd asked me."
She and Lind, now CEO of Careerforce, were wed a year later.
The couple are regular gym-goers, and enjoy competing against each other. "He can lift weights far heavier than I can. But I'm much more flexible."
Dame Annette has been teetotal for nearly 15 years. "I decided that I wanted to lose weight, and I didn't want to give up food. So I gave up alcohol."
She also quit smoking in a day, four decades ago. "I'm a kind of all-or-nothing person."
King is continuing her community involvement as patron of sports clubs and welfare organisations including Miramar Rangers football, Miramar Tennis and Wellington Croquet.
She is also chair of Life Flight Trust emergency air services. "It's a charity I've loved for years. And a charity that helped saved my old dad's life. He (Bill Robinson) was flown by them from Blenheim to Wellington for a stent in his heart."
KIng is looking forward to spending more time on hobbies including reading, watching TV – "I'm one of the original lovers of Coronation Street" – rugby, cricket, and sewing.
"I've got [a] sewing machine, and it's in mint condition."
"I went to night school when Amanda was a baby to learn how to sew properly. So I did a lot of dressmaking, her clothes and my clothes for years – loved it."
KIng's remarkable political career has been recognised at the highest level.
Three weeks ago, in the New Year Honours list, she was made a dame companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a Member of Parliament.
It is something she says "surprised and delighted" her. Both the previous National and current Labour Governments were involved in approving the honour.
"I've been on the opposite side of politics to the previous Government, so that's why it was a surprise. But then I was delighted, because I thought it showed that there is in New Zealand the ability to go across party lines."
The commitment to community King demonstrated in Parliament was forged in her childhood in the "close-knit" rural town of Murchison in the Tasman region.
"It was a fantastic life… everybody looked after everybody else."
When she was selected at 12 to represent Nelson-Marlborough in a national equestrian championships at Hawera on her horse Dusky Boy, "the whole town got behind my selection and raised money for me to go".
"They had a dance and various fundraising activities. And then they chartered a DC3 plane from Nelson and flew up to watch me compete."
She played netball, hockey and softball. And in her last year of high school, in Waimea College, near Nelson, she was selected for its A basketball team. "Which was fantastic because I'd come from this tiny little town to this great big college, and to be selected and to travel with them to tournaments was really a great thrill."
She also displayed a confidence and gregariousness which would hold her in good stead in politics.
"I was always talking. I loved to be in the debating teams and I suppose you'd say I was an extrovert from an early age. I just loved being with people and being out there if you like."
Her initial career path came from a weekend job at around 14, cleaning the school dental clinic. Dressing up in the dental nurse's uniform, she'd take out a cigarette and "parade around with it as if I was her". It seemed "incredibly glamorous".
She completed a two-year dental nurse course in Christchurch after leaving school.
In 1974 she had her "awakening - to be a political activist" when - in full dress uniform along with almost 1000 fellow dental nurses - she marched on Parliament for a pay rise. "We were supported right along Lambton Quay, with people hanging out of windows and on streets clapping and cheering."
"We met with (then Prime Minister) Norm Kirk and the Minister of Health, Bob Tizard, and on the spot were given a pay increase of over 20 per cent. I can tell you that the old Silver Fern railcar rocked and rolled its way back that night, with this pay increase that we'd secured."
King, who had joined the Labour Party in 1972 after Kirk led it to election victory, then began to study part-time for a BA in political studies and history.
She continued with post-graduate studies and became a dental training school tutor in Wellington, where she moved with Amanda after the end of her first marriage.
Increasing her involvement with Labour, as a secretary and delegate, she was selected to stand for the Horowhenua seat, which she held from 1984-1990, before the electorate was lost to National.
She was returned to Parliament in 1993 as the MP for Miramar, and with the reorganisation of electorates under MMP successfully contested the new seat of Rongotai in the 1996 elections. She held Rongotai for seven terms, until her retirement last year.
While Labour was in office, King held several portfolios as Cabinet Minister, including Health, Justice, Police and Transport.
Achievements she is most proud of include the rebuilding of hospitals, a number of which were under threat of closure, during her time as Health Minister.
"We started a rebuilding programme from Kaitaia right down to Invercargill. Kaitaia and Thames and Wairarapa Hospital were all under threat of closure. We rebuilt them. We rebuilt Auckland, Wellington.
"It's something I drove because I know the value of a health centre, a hospital centre, in a community – particularly small communities. In fact, I got the Murchison hospital rebuilt. It's where my father was born and I was born. It was under threat of closure and I had it rebuilt."
Other achievements include the establishment of the current District Health Board system and changes to the Public Health and Disability Act.
Deputy Labour leader from 2008-2011 and again from 2014-2017, she says the role "probably suits my personality".
"I'm an organised person, I like doing the behind the scenes work. The deputy's role is to support the leader and take the pressure off the leader from the day-to-day activities that have to take place.
"I think probably I was suited for deputy. I never wanted to be the leader."
She says the position meant being "a combination of mother confessor and disciplinarian".
And she showed some tough love close to home when in 1989 she became Minister of Employment – and a teenage Amanda became unemployed.
"I marched around to her flat - and said, 'You cannot be on the unemployment benefit. I'm the Minister of Employment. You will go out and get a job'.
"And she went out and got an apprenticeship as a joiner. And she did a four-year apprenticeship and became a qualified joiner."
Throughout all the changes in her life and around her, King's experience in voting for homosexual law reform in 1986 has stayed with her.
It taught her, she says, to vote with her conscience.
"And it was one message I would give to new MPs. I'd say, 'You cannot vote for anybody else's conscience'.
"When you poll an electorate and ask them what their conscience is, it'll be divided in many ways. But you can only do what you believe in when it comes to a conscience issue.
"I think the MPs who try to sit on the fence are often caught out, because in the end you can't be everything to everybody."