"Sorry if I have to put the phone down and cough," Angie Warren-Clark rasps over the phone from Wellington.

The Labour list MP is suffering from a cold - one that, ironically, forced her to miss a health select committee meeting.

She still sounds crook, but as she picks up steam on some of the issues important to her, the frog in her throat starts to wane.

It's been a massive few months for Papamoa-based Warren-Clark, 47.

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She moved from her role as manager of Tauranga Women's Refuge to the world of politics, just scraping into Parliament as a list MP after special votes were counted.

Her election has her placed as Labour's foil to Rotorua National MP Todd McClay, with Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey focusing on Maori-specific issues.

It also sees her sitting on the health and environment select committees, both of which will tackle contentious issues this year.

It's been a steep learning curve for the girl from Murupara.

Born in the Bay of Plenty to parents involved in the forestry industry, Warren-Clark and her family later moved to Northland, where she lived until she was 18.

From there it was off to Waikato University and two degrees - law and social science.

She was a part-time student for some of her seven years of study, as she also juggled being a single mum.

Admitted to the Bar in 1998, she later worked for several government departments including Work and Income, ACC, and the Ministry of Justice before taking on the role at Women's Refuge.

Her passion for helping those in the clutches of domestic violence doesn't just stem from professional responsibility.

"You do hear some horrific stories, and there are a couple that have really affected me. It does give you more empathy, and drive."

It was that work, and seeing people homeless and struggling to find accommodation, that convinced her to stand for Labour.

She initially stood for Labour's Tauranga candidacy but lost to Jan Tinetti, before being successfully selected as the candidate for Bay of Plenty.

She acknowledges she always knew in her "hearts of hearts" she wouldn't win the seat.

"It was pretty clear running in the Bay of Plenty, that my colleague Todd Muller would win," she says.

She ended up claiming 11,356 votes, more than the 10,000 goal she had set herself.

Having been friends with Muller since university, she is pragmatic about the loss.

"It was really heartening to see my party putting me in that position on the list, we haven't had representation in the Bay itself for quite some time."

Ranked at 39 on the Labour list, she had a nervous wait following election night.

While the class of 2017 was having induction training and getting to know each other in Wellington, Warren-Clark had to endure an "awkward" few weeks while she waited for the special votes to be counted.

"It was like being the naughty kid who doesn't get invited to the birthday party," she says with a laugh.

But she did end up having an election party, of sorts.

It was during a campaign debrief with Tinetti and about 30 campaign staff that she learned she would enter Parliament.

She received a phone call from party general-secretary Andrew Kirton, who said "welcome to Parliament".

Her phone started ringing off the hook.

"I was talking to my husband, I actually had to hang up on him because Jacinda was ringing.

"It was crazy."

Now she's looking to tackle issues such as the recently-announced mental health inquiry through her select committee roles.

She is also working to increase her presence in Rotorua, and further south in Taupo.

While McClay is the electorate MP and therefore the first port of call for electorate issues, Warren-Clark says she is still interested and wants to support constituents in any way she can.

"I'm really interested to get to know the community more on a broader spectrum."

She is also looking forward to being part of the "Jacinda legacy" - and about the Prime Minister's impending arrival.

"I'm really excited for the baby.

"I'm past that stage myself, so I'm really happy to be the aunty."