Getting inside the mind of Parliament's Speaker, Trevor Mallard, is not without its complications.
You don't know which Trevor you're going to encounter: the MP who was once Labour's No 1 hardman, and whom National continues to call a bully and not fit for office.
Or it might be Trevor the softie, who tweets about flowers in bloom, adores dogs and babies and has made Parliament a more welcoming place for both.
It has been a Mr In-between in recent days - a fearless Mallard who decided to take on the illegal tent dwellers occupying Parliament's front lawn by ordering the sprinklers turned on, and the loudspeakers set on loop with offerings such Barry Manilow, the Baby Shark song, the Macarena and recorder music.
Mallard has always been a blunt operator. He has never been one to care too much what people think. He often acts first and thinks later but insists that the sprinklers and music were not impetuous decisions.
Any regrets about those choices? He has only one and that is choosing recorder music, which apparently produced headaches in the police officers on duty near the loudspeakers.
"It is hard to tell what different people regard as s***," Mallard tells the Herald. "But there was unanimity about the recorder music. I didn't find anyone who liked that."
In terms of the sprinkler, he says the ground was going to get sodden with heavy rain anyway and after seeing some people urinating and defecating in the grounds on Tuesday night, he had no qualms about his actions.
"Diluting a bit of the s*** and urine was not a major issue for me."
The music was an add-on to a serious announcement. It was interspersed between repeat messages from him giving the occupiers a trespass warning, a necessary legal pre-requisite to arrest with people coming and going from the grounds.
Mallard spent the first five nights of the occupation in the Speaker's flat but at present is heading back to the home he shares with wife and journalist Jane Clifton.
"When action was imminent, I felt it appropriate when I had staff there and you just went 'sure' whether any additional support or stuff to sign off might be necessary ... to be immediately available to them and the police," said Mallard.
Taking on the protesters as he did was the act of someone with a combative nature, the self-assurance of being Parliament's longest-serving MP - first elected in 1984 - and a frontline protest veteran himself for causes such as opposing the Springbok Tour and nuclear testing.
He has been arrested so many times himself, he has lost count, and he has convictions for obscene language and obstructing a footpath.
He was at the Hamilton Springboks game at Rugby Park but not in the middle of the field like the other anti-apartheid protesters. He and three others had trained for another manoeuvre – to hoist one of them onto the crossbar of the goal post - which they never got to try out because the game was cancelled.
But he sees little similarity between his protest days and the current one choking Parliament's grounds and surrounding streets.
"There are clearly people with deeply held beliefs and people have gone down rabbit holes," he said.
He says he is aware of relatives of his and people he once regarded as friends who are part of the protest.
"I know that they deeply believe stuff I regard as crap. I think they think they are being honourable but I think they are wrong."
He will not be drawn into criticising the action or inaction of police, however, insisting that the independence of the constabulary was too important.
But there is no such restraint in his descriptions of the protesters.
"It is the biggest collection of ferals that I've seen.
"The vast majority of people have behaved really well, but there have been more badly behaved people. "
He has never seen such death threats that have been evident in the current protest on placards, on chalk markings and in speeches.
"It is not the way we do things in New Zealand. And the old protester talking again - you've got to have some appeal to the people whose minds you are trying to change and threatening to kill people is not widely seen as a good tactic."
Mallard's intervention has attracted a certain tut-tutting from political opponents who have described him as juvenile, immature and childish.
But based on feedback, it gave him instant popularity with a large section of the public, which is a relatively rare phenomenon in his long political career.
It has certainly cemented his entitlement to be described as the most controversial MP to have held the office of Speaker in modern times.
Peter Dunne used to produce an annual account of the worst behaved MPs and in 2009 he gave Mallard a lifetime achievement award for bad behaviour "for services to melodrama, fisticuffs and generally aberrant behaviour".
As a Cabinet minister in 2007, Mallard famously got into a physical fight with National's Tau Henare in the lobby of the debating chamber.
Mallard had recently separated from his first wife and Henare had goaded Mallard in the House. Mallard said he wanted to discuss it in the lobbies and when Henare called him a hypocrite, Mallard punched him.
The reference to being a "hypocrite" had been directed at Mallard's previous comments in the House to then-National leader Don Brash about an alleged affair.
When Brash rose to ask a question, Mallard said "how's Diane this week?" and when Brash mentioned the "Phillip Field affair", Mallard said "speaking of affairs ..."
Brash was subsequently confronted at a caucus meeting about whether he was having an affair with businesswoman Diane Foreman and lost the leadership soon afterwards.
For the fight, Helen Clark described Mallard's behaviour as "deplorable" and demoted him off the front bench - although by only three places. He also lost his prized portfolios of Sport, Rugby World Cup and Economic Development. Police did not investigate but in a private prosecution, Mallard pleaded guilty to fighting in a public place.
Mallard, however, was one of Clark's most trusted ministers. And the month following Don Brash's Orewa speech on race relations she appointed Mallard as the Race Relations Coordinating Minister, much to the horror of Labour's Māori caucus. When Mallard talked about dropping the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi from legislation if they were not appropriate, the Māori caucus sent a delegation to deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen.
He is sometimes described as temperamentally unsuited to the job. Former Prime Minister Sir Bill English once called him an "unguided missile" and "a mixture of energy and thuggery".
Mallard was forced to issues a string of apologies in Parliament in 2001 for accusations he had made against English's GP wife, Mary, and Max Bradford's wife, Rosemary – accusations that were apparently made in retaliation for questions National had been asking about research being undertaken by Clark's husband, public health specialist Peter Davis.
His most controversial episode as Speaker came in the aftermath of a report he commissioned on the culture of Parliament. He falsely claimed a parliamentary staffer had committed rape, and reached a legal settlement, but last year used parliamentary privilege to state he had committed sexual assault.
National's leader at the time, Judith Collins, called it the most extraordinary display by "the biggest bully I've ever seen in Parliament" and called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to "grow herself a spine" and remove him as Speaker.
Despite the critics, Mallard has instituted a raft of changes to parliamentary procedure which, for example, has made it harder for ministers to get away with flannelling during debate on bills in their name.
It had been Mallard's long-term ambition to be Speaker, which is unusual in itself. In his second term in Helen Clark's Government when he was Education Minister, he said he ultimately wanted to be Finance Minister or Speaker.
As Education Minister, Mallard had no qualms about taking on the teacher unions PPTA or NZEI, both of which he had been a member.
To howls of protest, he also persisted with a programme of school closures - including his own old primary school in Wainuiomata - until Clark put a stop to it.
And the events of recent days have put him in mind of those days and whether being popular is important.
"I've been thinking a little bit about what I think about what I think, recently, with this happening and some of the parallels around school closures," he said.
"In the end, they stopped because Helen Clark decided they should stop. While they were happening, in the places they were happening they weren't popular but I felt and I still feel it was the right thing to do. I felt that the quality of kids' education and the risks in small schools and the costs involved…
"It's more important for me to do the right thing than be popular.
"My popularity was never going to be important for a Government."