Steven Joyce, 50, is known as National's Minister for Everything, a self-made millionaire who set up a radio station in Taranaki and at 38 sold his stable of stations - MediaWorks - before becoming campaign manager for the National Party. He is married to Tony Blair's former nanny, Suzanne, and lives on a lifestyle block north of Auckland with their two young children.

1.You have a degree in zoology from Massey University: do you use that much these days?

In terms of detail no. One of the topics we took during my time at university was the mating displays of the mallard duck and many years ago I used to, if encouraged, do the impersonation of mating behaviour during a dinner party. Once Trevor Mallard decided to have me on in Parliament and I felt the need to share that as the chief topic of my degree. I was going to be a vet at university but didn't make the cut. I remember seeing a career counsellor when that happened, thinking of walking away, and he said just get a degree, any degree, because it's about how to learn. I use those skills every day.

2. Were you always right wing at heart?

I don't see myself as right wing. I've believed strongly in the ability of individuals to make decisions and make their own courses in terms of how they want to live their lives. I don't see that as particularly ideological. My parents owned a dairy when I was young and wanted to get ahead in life. What I believe is born out of my experience, I don't think it's particularly right wing. The labelling of particular politics is a bit unhelpful in many ways.


3. Why does success and age change so many people's political leanings, do you think?

I don't think my politics have changed particularly. I'm perhaps more conservative in my approach than I was. I suppose when you are younger you want to change the world more and then when you are a bit older you perhaps take the time to look at how things are working and be more selective. No, I haven't always voted National. I've never voted Labour but I'm thinking I might have voted in '81 for Social Credit and '84 for the New Zealand Party. I've voted National since then.

4. What kind of father are you?

I've got two young kids, 6 and 4. I try to be a good dad but I'm very conscious that I'm away from home a lot because of my job. As much as possible I try and be present for them, literally and just in their world while I'm there, not too distracted. I try and be part of their lives, be really interested in what they are doing. Oh, we have fun. We've got our lifestyle block and my daughter especially loves doing things around there. No, we don't have a pony. I used to ride as a kid. I had two horses up until my teenage years. But life intervened in us getting a horse now.

5. Are older dads different do you think?

You're assuming I'm old. I'm younger than I look, I assure you. I don't know about different, but sometimes it's hard for older dads to keep up. You do get the benefits of experience of course. I'm just glad I am a dad. Should I have done it earlier? Well, that would have been a problem because I hadn't met my wife.

6. Did you see much of your own father growing up?

Mum and Dad both worked in the dairy and so we spent a lot of time sitting out the back of the shop, stacking boxes and things. Or we'd serve the customers, under supervision. So we saw a lot of Dad then but less so in later years when he went on to run a supermarket so was much busier. He still had time to coach my sports teams though. I wouldn't go as far as saying I feel guilty about time with my kids, I'm just very conscious of it.


7. What did your childhood years at Catholic Mass teach you?

Patience. I haven't been to church much recently, except funerals. I suppose it teaches you life values but yeah, patience. There were plenty of people in church who were good at sleeping with their eyes open but that might be a bit unfair.

8. What do you think of Colin Craig?

I don't know him. I think he could pick and choose his battles a bit better. That would be my free political advice to him.

9.You ran radio stations as a young man: were you ever hip?

What do you mean, I'm not now? Unbelievable. I think my level of hipness is unchanged over the years. You can ascertain how hip I am today and extrapolate backwards. Our business started out as a bunch of guys who wanted to play music on the radio. It was great fun. An amazing mix of entertainment and business. Yes, life is more serious now.

10. So what do you do for fun?

The lifestyle block has a garden so we have a lot of fun with that. I've become a tweeter about my vegetable garden - I tweet other things as well, but I'm very proud of my vege garden.

11. What is Suzanne's best Cherie and Tony anecdote?

There's a sort of rule among nannies that they don't nanny and tell so I don't know there's anything there, except there was a bit of a ding of the Blair vehicle during her time, by the nanny. I don't know if it was his opposition vehicle or not but it was in a shopping car park. Suzanne's always been interested in politics but is probably less so now. We've always had similar interests and the politics thing was how we met. We do talk politics now and agree on most things but not all of them. Do I ever think she's right? Occasionally, yes, of course.

12. Who is the non-National politician you admire most?

It has to be Annette [King]. We've had five years together on radio now, talking in the breaks and so on. I volunteered to be her campaign manager for the Labour leadership - I even had a slogan "King for Queen" - but she has yet to take me up on it.