Jeanette Fitzsimons drove up to Auckland from her home in the Coromandel last August to share some wisdom with the good folks on the parliamentary select committee looking at the Zero Carbon Bill.
"I am," she said at the start of her submission, "a retired MP and small farmer and grandmother with a special interest in climate change for the last 30 years."
Hardly scratches the surface, really. Fitzsimons was an activist from the 1960s, an environmentalist who knew from the Save Manapouri campaign of the 1970s how powerful the combination of protest and parliamentary negotiation could be.
She entered Parliament in the first MMP election in 1996, as a Green Party list MP in the Alliance, but by the time of the next election the Greens had left the Alliance and were campaigning alone.
Election night 1999 was a nailbiter, as party supporters waited to learn if they would get over the 5 per cent threshold or if they would need Fitzsimons to win the seat of Coromandel. As it turned out, both happened. Coromandel is still the only seat the Greens have ever held.
Fitzsimons did four terms in Parliament, all of it as co-leader of the party. The Greens declined to joined Helen Clark's 2002 Government, after Labour made it clear they would have to drop their opposition to genetic engineering. "It's just not what we do," she said later.
In 2005, Clark invited NZ First and United Future into Government and the Greens were again excluded. Being out of Government did not mean Fitzsimons was out of favour, although it must often have felt like that.
In the debating chamber, she never climbed into the bear pit, setting a tone of dignity and respect that has largely lasted in the Greens and influenced the parliamentary behaviour of some other MPs, including the present prime minister. She was universally liked and admired, and in 2008, in a public poll, was named New Zealand's most trusted party leader.
But although she had three private member's bills pulled from the hat, with a focus on climate change, none came near to passing.
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What Fitzsimons did was walk the long, hard path of preparation. She changed our thinking, and because of that it became possible for the rest of us to change our actions. Parliament today wrestles with the way forward on climate change, and makes progress where none was possible before, because she walked that path.
The select committee meeting that day last August, and the bill it was considering, were part of her legacy. The committee was chaired by Scott Simpson, a National MP who now holds her old seat of Coromandel. That cross-party approach, with opposition MPs chairing some of the committees, belongs in the tradition of constructive collaboration she championed in Parliament.
As for the bill itself, supported in the end by all MPs bar one, is a high point in the legislative achievements of the Green Party: everyone's walking down that path now.
Not that she thought it was good enough, and she told the select committee so, bluntly. She told the Green Party when she thought they weren't doing well enough, too. Speaking your mind is a tradition of the Greens, and it's not so hard. Speaking your mind and being effective, that's the trick Fitzsimons pursued to the end.
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson has called her "a taonga of the green movement". In a country that boasts so many great environmentalists, she was the rangatira. Being liked and admired on all sides, being effective inside and outside Parliament, these are not things that are given to many.
She was, as her initial declaration to that select committee suggests, an activist quick to modesty. That's pretty rare too. She was also, as the select committee was reminded, extremely well informed and, although she was never, ever rude about it, she was not encumbered with much tolerance for fools.
She told the committee she knew there was a lot of fear in rural New Zealand about having to reduce the dairy herd. But, she said, fewer cows and better use of existing feed practices would lead to increased profits and a 20 per cent drop in methane emissions, right now, if enough farmers got serious about the challenge.
She had facts and figures, research papers and more, and she had the skills and knowledge to weave her way through conflicts, whether real or apparent, in the immensely complex world of climate science.
She knew how to weave her way through a select committee hearing too, dispensing reassurance, blunt truths, concessions and little touches of flattery wherever they were needed. She was a pro, everyone knew that, but still, it was a masterclass in both politics and environmentalist determination.
And she brought daffodils from her farm. Found a jar and put them on the table before the session began, took them with her when she'd finished. It was August, and she apologised, she'd promised them, first of the season, to a friend.
She once told us this: "What we should be measuring is things like reductions in infant mortality, reductions in homelessness, progress towards renewable energy, people's health status, people's educational status, the state of our natural resources. Those are the things that actually make us wealthy."
We all believe that, don't we?
When she retired in 2009, she also told us this: "Parliament … has proved itself incapable of responding to the crises that threaten to overwhelm us. As an institution it is asleep."
It's likely most people believe that too.
Jeanette Fitzsimons was on the chainsaw on Thursday. She fell, was hospitalised, had a stroke and died that night. It's not right but it's what happens. You have to make the best of your time while you have it. Every day you have to do it. I'm trying to say it the way she might have said it. It's how she lived. We owe it to her now, to carry on.