Jeanette Fitzsimons delivered a simple assessment of herself yesterday as co-leader of the Green Party as she announced her intention to retire.
"It may be that I don't look scary," she replied to a reporter who asked about the degree of trust she has built up with the public in her 14 years in the job.
That trust is huge for Parliament's true gentlewoman. (She won the off-beat election poll that asked which of the party leaders you would most trust to babysit your kids).
In the House, too, Fitzsimons has earned wide cross-party respect for her integrity and expertise, her mannerly steeliness in addressing Green issues.
As was the case with her former co-leader, the late Rod Donald, the party and the public are unlikely to know how big a gap she will leave until she is gone.
The Greens' rules insist there must be a male and a female co-leader.
Rod Donald's successor, Russel Norman, set out the facts of how her replacement would be chosen - at its Dunedin conference on Queen's Birthday Weekend in a members' vote.
MPs Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei will contest the position and it will be a test of the party's direction.
Turei is young, talented, non-scary and Maori. The latter may be the most important factor for a party that has the chance to pay more than lip service to its active support for principles of Treaty of Waitangi partnership.
She is a former environment lawyer and has moved well beyond her anarchist past.
Counting against her is that she does not have a well-established profile or niche in the way most of her colleagues do. People know that Sue Kedgley stands for safe food and Russel Norman stands for clean rivers. People don't know what she stands for.
Bradford, on the other hand, has a high national profile established over decades of left-wing activism on social justice issues and is definitely more "scary".
The New Zealand Greens are unquestionably Red-Greens and Bradford represents the red.
Her profile increased during the last term in her successful sponsorship of a private members' bill to get rid of the legal defence adults were able to use in assault cases against children - aka the anti-smacking bill.
The notoriety she gained for that bill will be revisited in the next few months as campaigners against the bill crank up again in support of the citizens-initiated referendum that begins in July.
The referendum will ask: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"
The re-opening of the smacking debate is unlikely to negatively affect Bradford's part in the leadership contest and could possibly enhance it. Most party members totally backed her bill.
One of the questions the Greens will contemplate is which of them best complements Norman.
Since he became co-leader in June 2006, he has established his political credentials largely on classic Green environmental issues. In that respect, Bradford's emphasis on social justice issues would safely complement his.
But the retirement of Fitzsimons could also force the issue of rejuvenation into the contest. Bradford was elected in 1999, only one term earlier than Turei. But as a veteran protester for two decades before then, she represents an older generation and on that count, there would be only one winner.
But the key question for the party is whether Bradford or Turei is the most likely to increase support (votes and membership) for the Green Party. If the answer is Bradford, is it prepared to broaden its support to the left.
The way the Greens would tell it, their leadership contests are so pure that they are not sullied by such base considerations as who would bring in more votes.
But the fortunes, or misfortunes, of the Labour Party during the term may give the Greens their best opportunity yet to become a much bigger party.