He was taken from his parents aged 3, but it was his ability to improve his situation that made the difference, says New Zealand First's Wairarapa candidate Ron Mark.
"I built myself from nothing," he said.
The former state ward's comments were in response to being asked about the Green Party's proposal to relieve poverty in New Zealand through a universal income, financed by a new tax on wealth.
Currently a Cabinet Minister, Mark said he doubted taxing one group to alleviate ills in another was a solution because "education is key".
Local Focus asked the four main Wairarapa Electorate candidates about the Green Party's proposal as the country heads into a Covid-induced recession.
The proposal brings a tax on capital back into the national conversation after the Labour Party abandoned plans for a Capital Gains Tax last year.
Labour candidate Kieran McAnulty says his party is happy with the current tax level and economic growth would help social goals.
"We've always said that the best way to get out of this is to grow the economy, not to tax our way out of it," he said.
National's first-time candidate, farmer and lobbyist Mike Butterick, also said the answer was to grow the economy to enable "a duty of care to provide for people".
"We actually need a good, strong conversation on how we facilitate those skills to enable people to improve," he said.
Green candidate Celia Wade-Brown said government benefits weren't enough to live on.
"It is not children's fault there aren't jobs for their parents, or their parents are having to work two or three jobs for their parents to make ends meet," she said.
"We think for future generations it is really important to lift people out of poverty."