Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says she has been bullied inside Parliament and subjected to harmful public infatuation outside it, with one incident being so serious she took out a trespassing order.
And while Kaye, who first worked in Parliament in 2002 as part of the National Party research unit, says the culture around Parliament has improved, it still has a long way to go to become a safe workplace where people are treated with mutual respect.
Her revelation follows the release this week of the Debbie Francis review of the parliamentary workplace , which found systemic issues of bullying and harassment, poor conduct too often tolerated and normalised, and a perception of low accountability.
The day after the release, Speaker Trevor Mallard said he believed there was a rapist working at Parliament, sparking a series of turbulent events that led to a historical assault complaint and a parliamentary staffer being stood down.
Mallard's comments - called shocking by some parliamentary workers - caused widespread panic among workers, particularly women, and those concerned for their safety.
"One of our younger women just walked through the door in tears and said 'I'm driving to work this morning and I hear on the radio that there's a rapist in the building,' National deputy leader Paula Bennett told the AM Show.
"I had another young woman come in and say, 'My parents have just called, they're driving to Parliament to pick me up because they don't think I should be here because they've heard that [there's a rapist].'"
While several women MPs spoken to by the Herald said they had never felt physically unsafe at Parliament, they had all seen bullying or had been bullied.
Kaye referred to former Labour MP George Hawkins calling her "National's answer to Barbie dolls" in the House in 2009.
"But the biggest area I've felt unsafe has actually been in my constituency work or members of the public who have contacted me, and at times I've had to refer that to security or police," Kaye told the Herald.
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"There have been multiple incidents. I've had individuals that either security or police have been concerned about because they've been a bit infatuated, or had amorous intentions.
"Some of those individuals have visited me at my electorate office and the nature of the situations, though I've never had a physical altercation, have been serious enough where in one situation I was advised to take out a trespass order. I take those situations seriously for the safety of myself and also my staff."
In the online survey for the Francis review, 29 per cent of online survey respondents said they had been bullied or harassed by an MP or manager, 30 per cent by their peers, and 24 per cent by members of the public.
The survey found 50 incidents of unwanted touching, 54 of unwanted sexual advances and 14 of sexual assault.
Interviews with Francis revealed 24 incidents each of unwanted touching and unwanted sexual advances, and five of sexual assault.
Francis described three of the five sexual assault incidents as "extremely serious", and these are believed to be the source of complaints about the staffer who has been stood down.
The material provided for the review was strictly confidential, but Francis said she gave several people the details of sexual assault support providers and police investigators.
The review contains many anonymous comments about the treatment of women, including:
• "The MP invaded my personal space and he did this with most women. I don't know if it was intentional of just from habit. He always liked to touch the arm of any woman he was talking to, which was unpleasant, and I had several women complain to me about it."
• "It's improving. The low-level sexism that used to be prevalent is phasing out. Partly that's demographic change. Partly it's because they're all more aware of it in the #MeToo era."
• "If any woman asks whether they should take a job in Parliament, I would not advise it."
The review said that many women, including MPs, spoke of experiencing a combination of sexism, racism and harassment.
"It was very common for them to report, via interview or submissions, that their experiences had harmed them physically, affected their health and, in some cases, made them unable to continue working," the report said.
"Reported emotional harm included feeling distraught, angry, humiliated and anxious."
Francis found that most MPs were good people to work for, but a minority were "repeat offenders" whose behaviour appeared to "fit the definitions of bullying and harassment".
Workplace bullying has been in the spotlight recently, with alleged incidents involving Labour MP Meka Whaitiri , Botany MP Jamie-Lee Ross , and National MP Maggie Barry - all of whom deny any bullying behaviour.
A number of staffers have also left Parliamentary Service since the end of last year, sparking speculation issues with the service's workplace culture.
Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, who has been allocated a security escort after receiving threats, said the Francis review showed a clear culture of bullying.
"I don't think any of us can deny that is a safety issue. People should feel free and equal in their workplace, and they don't.
"I do worry that we're not necessarily as safe as we should be."
But she said she personally felt safe, despite the threats that had come her way.
National MP Judith Collins, who said she was not surprised by the bullying outlined in the Francis review, said people had tried to bully her - unsuccessfully.
"It's a tough place to work for everybody, not simply for females. It's a very harsh environment, certainly harder than any of the commercial law firms I've worked in."
Labour MP Louisa Wall, who co-chairs the New Zealand branch of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, said she had been intimidated.
"I have had colleagues swear at me and aggressively engage because they have not liked what I have advocated.
"There has been undermining and sabotage of my work as a form of intimidation and to reinforce perceived hierarchies, again when I have advocated for particular issues or legislative reform.
"I have felt stressed and frustrated by this situation and on occasion have taken these experiences to leaders within the party. It would be better if there was a formal code of conduct based on ethics of behavior with each other and in our work."
Wall said she has never felt physically threatened, but added: "Bullying is harmful. That's the point. It's a context that isn't safe, or promotes overall wellbeing."
Kaye has been involved with the National Party since she was a Young National 20 years ago, and she had her first taste of working in Parliament as part of National's research unit in 2002 and 2003. She was elected as an MP in 2008, and became a Minister in 2013.
More women MPs and Ministers had helped, Kaye said, and while the parliamentary workplace had improved - making particular mention of sexism - it still had a long way to go.
"For some people, power does go to their head a bit, to be frank. How do you deal with that? What does pastoral care look like for that?
"What is the role of MPs, for whom there is an element of public service and longer hours, and what are our expectations for ensuring parliamentary staffers are well looked after, respected, and when there are issues, that they can be resolved in a timely manner?
"I accept I am available to the public, and sometimes that means long hours and long weekends, but there should be a different set of expectations for parliamentary staffers."
The report noted the intensity of the parliamentary workplace, but Kaye said that was "no excuse for not ensuring we change for the better".
First-term Labour MP Ginny Anderson told Morning Report that she had felt safe as an MP, but that wasn't always the case when she had worked in Parliament as a staffer.
"As an MP, I've always felt safe and well supported, but there have been times that I have seen behaviour that is not exemplary when I have worked as a member of staff in Parliament."
The Francis review had 85 recommendations that would take years to fully implement.
Parliamentary Service general manager Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said he was committed to making Parliament a safer place to work.
"We [He and Clerk of the House David Wilson] are committed to implementing the recommendations set out in the report over which we have responsibility.
"Harmful behaviour of any kind is not, and will not, be tolerated by me or the Clerk of the House. We have a renewed focus and determination to build a culture that will make Parliament one of the best work environments in New Zealand."