A Napier deputy mayor who became one of the National Party's longest-serving MPs and most versatile ministers was first shoulder-tapped as a potential Labour member of Parliament.
Anne Tolley was a 33-year-old housewife when she was first elected to the Napier City Council in 1986, the start of a 34-year political career.
She served under Dave Prebensen, who was mayor from 1983-1989, became deputy to new mayor Alan Dick for the next two terms, lost her council seat in a shock in 1995, then joined the National Party and became an MP for 18 of the past 21 years.
Now Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, despite National being in Opposition, she announced last week she would not be seeking re-election in September 19 General Election.
She revealed to Hawke's Bay Today this week that the first approach for her to stand for Parliament came not from the National Party, but from long-time Labour MP Geoff Braybrooke.
She wasn't a member of any party as Braybrooke (MP from 1981-2002) continued Labour's stranglehold in Napier, and both were pondering their political futures.
But she left the MP's request unrequited.
"He approached me and asked me if I was interested in standing for Labour. I had to say that's not quite where my political values lie," she recalls.
At the time, she and husband Allan lived in and ran boutique accommodation house Anleigh Heights in hilltop haven Chaucer Rd North, which has stunning views overlooking Ahuriri.
It also became something of a Napier answer to Downing St, with residents including fellow councillor Tony Brownlie, then-future Labour MP Russell Fairbrother, and future mayors Barbara Arnott and Bill Dalton.
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Prodding her most to seek the National Party candidacy at the introduction of MMP in 1996 was fellow councillor and 1987 National Party Napier candidate Ashley Church, who in 1989 became the youngest-ever Napier City councillor. He is best-known now as a property commentator based in Auckland.
Her first bid for the candidacy was thwarted by a headquarters denial of an exemption for her to stand despite having been a member of the party for less than a year.
A former pupil of Napier's Colenso High School (now William Colenso College) she was the candidate in 1989, and, despite being Braybrooke's last National opponent at the ballot box, entered Parliament on the party List.
In another touch of irony, she was a victim of the collapse of the National Party vote at the 2002 election, losing both her List MP seat and also the election in Napier to Braybrooke's successor, the near-neighbour and high-profile barrister Russell Fairbrother.
But she came back, moving to Gisborne and standing in the East Coast electorate, at the time including Wairoa, and was swept back into Parliament as all the general electorates from East Cape to Cape Palliser turned blue in the National Party resurgence of 2005.
After Wairoa became part of the Napier electorate in 2011, she moved to be more central in her own electorate as it spread more into Eastern Bay of Plenty, and now lives at Ōhope.
In her years on the council she never imagined becoming an MP, perhaps mostly because she was still raising a family and would "never have thought about it" while the children were still at home.
Once in Parliament, she hankered for the role of Minister of Local Government, which came about by a circuitous route in the last two years of the 2008-2017 National-led Government.
She had been prominent at the council table, in the establishment of a Local Authority Trading Enterprise to run council-owned operations such as Marineland and the Aquarium, the Emerson St redevelopment transforming Napier CBD's thoroughfare transformed from a two-way street into a mainly-pedestrian precinct, development of McLean Park to the point it was able to stage its first day-night cricket international and its first All Blacks rugby test, and leading a rates review.
In the course of five General Election victories for National, she was National's first female Whip, and held six ministerial portfolios in Education (2008-2011), Police (2011-2014), Corrections (2011-2014), Social Development (2014-2017), Local Government (2016-2017), and Children (2016-2017). In the latter role she saw in the radical changes in state child care and protection and the formation of the Ministry of Vulnerable Children (Oranga Tamariki).
But it still seems a bit unreal.
"I never envisaged I'd end up being a Minister of the Crown, and I still have to pinch myself every time I enter Parliament," she says.
She never pondered the prospect of becoming Prime Minister.
"No. A couple of colleagues did approach me when it seemed to be going, but ... no."
Her seniority continued in Opposition since 2017, and, now 67, she is Deputy Speaker of the House.
However, she has decided it's her last role, and she won't seek re-election having originally hoped to go another round as a List MP.
Her announcement was followed this week by that of party colleague and former Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett, who is also standing down.
While her announcement has come in the wake of the installation of the new party and election campaign leadership of Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye, Tolley says her decision is about spending more time with family. Her parents had continued living in Napier, her father died last year, and her mother now lives in Havelock North.
She says her defeat at the 1995 local elections and ousting from the council was a "shock", but she learned from what many saw as being the victim of the "knives" wielded by opponents in her own stronghold of Bluff, Middle and Hospital hills.
Reflectively she says she may have left some behind as Napier went through changes, from a point where it struggled with employment percentages in the high teens and other issues of the time.
"I'm a bit of a girl-leader, get things done when I decide to, but while it was a shock when I sat down and thought about it, I didn't take people with me," she says.
"When you're doing any sort of reform, don't get too far ahead," she says.
"People can lose a little bit of confidence in you. You've got to take people with you."