He's a physically dominating presence on Labour's backbench and is "at the ready" to step into a ministerial pair of shoes. Political reporter Jason Walls sits down with Rino Tirikatene and asks about his political ambitions.
At six foot four inches (1.93m), Labour's Rino Tirikatene is easily one of the tallest Members of Parliament in New Zealand.
So it comes as little surprise that he was once an accomplished basketball player.
"I was quite the athletic hooper back in the day," Rino says – hooper meaning basketball player.
We're at a café across the road from Parliament.
Usually, my backbencher interviews are done at the Backbencher pub over lunch with MPs, but our plans to dine at the iconic eatery are dashed as the pub is closed at 9.30am.
No matter; we go next door and I order a couple of coffees as he takes a call. It's a busy day for Rino, hence why we have to squeeze in a coffee and not a full meal.
Although he's not "the hooper" he once was he says he still dabbles.
"I'm the captain of the Parliamentary three-on-three team."
That team is made up of a multitude of ministers, including Health Minister David Clark, Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi and Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
"We're unbeaten," he says, after challenging me to put a team together to face-off against him and other MPs.
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I wouldn't rate my chances; Rino used to represent Canterbury in his youth.
And, he says, he could have played in the national league.
But it wasn't to be; he got caught up in a much more competitive game in his early 20s – politics.
Rino comes from a family of politicians.
His grandfather, Sir Eruera Tirikatene, is one of New Zealand's most famous Māori politicians, credited with forging the allegiance between the Rātana church and the Labour Party.
Rino's aunt, Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, was a Labour MP from 1967–1996, when she represented the Southern Māori electorate.
Rino's father, a Ratana minister also named Rino Tirikatene, ran for election a few times in general electorates such as Rangiora, Lyttelton and in Wellington's Hutt Valley.
But he was never successful.
In 1996, while campaigning for the vast Māori seat of Te Puku O te Whenua – which had just been vacated by his sister – Rino senior died.
Rino junior, 23 years' old at the time, was asked to take the place of his father.
"For me, it was about finishing the race for my father," Rino says.
"In Māoridom, when one chief passes away, someone else steps up. So I stepped up at that time."
He did not win. New Zealand First won all five Māori seats.
"That was a good introduction to politics for me."
Rino spent a number of years in the private sector, putting his law degree to work with companies such as Sealord and various other Māori economic development entities.
But 15 years later, it was time for round two.
The Te Puku O Te Whenua seat had become Te Tai Tonga – by far the largest geographic seat in New Zealand, covering all of the South Island, Wellington City and the Chatham Islands.
In 2011, Rino stood in the electorate and won.
Today, Labour holds all seven Māori electorates.
Rino is proud of the electorate he has been representing for three terms; he calls it "magnificent".
He is the Chairman of the Māori Affairs Select Committee and, when Labour was in opposition, he was customs and fisheries spokesman.
Although Rino is not in Cabinet, he's clearly ambitious.
"Not everyone can be in the first 15," he says.
"But I'm training hard; I'm at the ready – waiting for a call-up."
He says it's an honour to be an MP and is particularly proud of his work on the Māori Affairs Select Committee.
"To continue with the sporting analogy, I do have the skills, I have proven [myself].
"I look after the largest geographic seat in the country; I have a strong mandate from my own people in the South, who are a driving force in Māoridom."
What's more, he says, he has not dropped the ball – "I'm a safe pair of hands".
"It would certainly be a huge honour if I cracked that top squad," he says in between sips of his cappuccino.
"I think I still have a lot to offer."
Rino is one of the more conservative Labour MPs in Parliament.
He voted against the same-sex marriage bill and plans to do the same on the abortion amendment and the euthanasia bills.
Does he consider himself to be more conservative than some of his Labour colleagues?
"I guess so, based on that record."
But he says his vote was also largely influenced by his Te Tai Tonga constituents, whom he says are generally not as progressive or liberal as other parts of the country.
One of the reasons behind his voting pattern in these conscience issues could well be due to his religious background.
Growing up, Rino said church was a big part of his life.
His father, as a Rātana minister, carried a lot of mana in Māoridom.
In fact, at one point during our interview, we're interrupted by a woman who hears us talking about Rino's iwi in Canterbury.
"What's your surname?" she asks.
"Tirikatene," he replies.
"So you're Rino's son?"
It turns out she had been a good friend of Rino's father when the pair were in school together.
"See?" he says to me when she leaves.
"Those connections are all over."
And those connections are deeply embedded in Parliament as well.
"Māori politics is largely about the relationships we have," he says.
"You get any two Māoris together and within two questions, you've made a connection – that's pretty much how we roll."
So is he related to any sitting MPs?
"Peeni, Kelvin, Nanaia," he says, rattling off a few MPs names off the top of his head.
Those three being Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Māori Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta – all Labour MPs.
He is also related to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and New Zealand First Minister Shane Jones.
"In fact," he says after taking a breath, "I'm related to all the Northern Māori MPs."
So who is the greatest ever Māori politician?
Although he was never an MP, Rino says the answer, for him, is Tahupotiki Wiremu Rātana – the founder of the Rātana church.
And the greatest of all time in basketball?
"Easy," Rino says.
"When it comes to basketball, Michael Jordan is the GOAT [greatest of all time]."
Time for some quick-fire questions.
What are you watching on Netflix right now? Last Chance U.
Best ever PM? Jacinda is doing a great job. But the "stuff of legend" is Big Norm – Norman Kirk.
If you could change one thing about New Zealand, what would it be? Something that would make the biggest impact on incomes and grow industries and jobs.
Will you ever be Prime Minister? Highly unlikely.
If you could have a menu item named after you, what would it be? A boil up – a Rino boil up.
What is one thing people won't know about you? I'm an avid sneaker collector.