Emma Mellow was 16 when her mother, a sickness beneficiary, died and her grandmother took on a parenting role, talking politics at the dinner table and putting on Parliament TV.
Like other National Party figures - John Banks, John Key and Paula Bennett - Mellow has risen from humble beginnings to become National's candidate in Auckland Central.
The 30-year-old has big boots to fill after the shock resignation in July of her mentor and friend, Nikki Kaye, who had held the seat since 2008.
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Her job is to hold the coveted urban liberal seat for National in a three-way contest with high-profile sitting Green MP Chloe Swarbrick running a "two ticks" campaign and Labour's Helen White.
At the last election, Kaye beat White by 1581 votes with the Green's Denise Roche coming a distant third.
Mellow was raised in One Tree Hill by her solo mother, who sacrificed a lot to put her daughter through St Cuthbert's private school for girls in Epsom.
After her mother died 14 years ago, Mellow came under the wing of her grandmother, Marion Mellow, an ardent National Party supporter who was at the Ponsonby Cruising Club on August 10 to see Emma selected for Auckland Central.
Mellow said politics became ingrained at college where she got into debating and writing for the College Herald of budding reporters, photographers and artists.
After school, she won an alumni scholarship to the University of Auckland and studied politics, helping out National's Sam Lotu-Iiga in the Maungakiekie electorate and becoming chairwoman of the northern Young Nats.
It was in that role that Mellow met Kaye and became inspired by young women making it into politics and, in particular, Kaye's strong principles and work ethic.
The outgoing MP has been an invaluable help through the campaign, joining Mellow on walks through the electorate and accompanying her on a visit to Great Barrier Island.
In 2012, Mellow moved to Sydney where she worked in public relations and became an adviser to the Liberal minister in the NSW Government, Pru Goward, who had a strong interest in domestic violence. After the Liberals lost office, Mellow worked in communications at Sydney Airport.
Mellow returned to Auckland in 2017, where she joined ANZ bank and now works as a senior communications manager in the wealth business.
Her return in 2017 also saw her go on the dating app Bumble where she met investment strategist Chris Myers, who she is engaged to and living with in an apartment in the electorate in Eden Tce. The couple are planning a wedding for next March.
This is no normal election campaign for the rookie politician. The selection process was messy and bungled by party officials. A little over 24 hours later, Auckland went in level 3 and campaigning stopped. The election was put back from September 19 to October 17.
"It has been difficult," said Mellow, whose team of supporters, including Kaye, delivered 20,000 letters across the electorate. Mellow followed by picking up the phone and calling people - 1000 people during level 3 and 500 in level 2.5. Every Monday night she does a Facebook Live event.
Mellow describes herself as a young liberal woman who wants to build on the legacy of Kaye within the National Party. As an ocean swimmer and trained lifesaver, she has a deep concern for the environment and wants more done to protect and restore the Hauraki Gulf.
Her experience working with Goward in Australia and a friend's personal experience has also shaped a strong desire to reduce domestic violence.
Locally, Mellow supports the City Rail Link but toes the party line on the SkyPath cycleway over the Harbour Bridge, saying the project is incredibly expensive at $350 million and the opportunity for cycling and walking across the harbour will possibly have to wait for a second harbour crossing.
Light rail in Auckland, labelled "ghost trains" by National Party leader Judith Collins, is another project not supported by Mellow.
Asked how she reads the three-way contest in Auckland Central, Mellow reverts to political speak, saying the people of the electorate will vote for the person they think will do the best job.
She said the contest is incredibly tight and close, but she will not be drawn on a split of the left-wing vote improving her chances of victory.
"Of course, people have two votes so it's up to them how they use that, but I'm working really hard to win the candidate vote and the party vote in Auckland Central," Mellow said.
If elected, Mellow said her style as an MP is to become really accessible.
"Nikki has more than 10,000 constituent cases a year so you need someone who is incredibly hard-working and gets the basics right. I have always been really driven and ambitious, so I think I would bring that to the role."
Auckland Central candidates: Tuariki Delamere (The Opportunities Party), Dominic Hoffman Dervan (TEA), Joshua Love (Independent), Jenny Marcroft (NZ First), Emma Mellow (National), Felix Poole (Act), Chloe Swarbrick (Green), Vernon Tava (Sustainable NZ), Helen White (Labour).