Vision NZ's Hannah Tamaki's entry into politics was shrouded with controversy.
The party leader, who is the wife of controversial religious leader, Destiny Church's Bishop Brian Tamaki, drew criticism when she announced her bid for the Waiariki electorate seat in June.
However, after months of hard work, she says she believes she has "changed perceptions" and people have had a chance to "know me for who I am, not who they think I am".
Tamaki drew just over 800 votes on Saturday night but says it was never about the numbers and she felt like her party succeeded just for making it to the starting line.
"I think we did quite good. I am already feeling revved up for a second campaign."
She said she was ready to learn a bit more about politics and come back stronger than ever.
"The work on the ground is far more important than the numbers I believe. Now it's head down and tail up to get more work done for our people."
Looking back, she said she had loved every minute of the journey but her highlights were getting involved in the political debates, building relationships with other candidates and meeting people from all different walks of life on the trail.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed the process. I felt accepted and welcomed even as a newbie."
Tamaki could not think of a lowlight as she said she had taken every day with "optimism and faith" and built a platform with her own "mana", which she could be proud of.
While campaigning, she said she had built good relationships with Rotorua's Fordlands community.
After attending a number of meetings at their community centre, she found more than 98 per cent of the community had been rallying for a local medical centre.
She said she got to work to get the wheels rolling on this and she hoped to have it up and running in the next few months. She was looking to do the same thing in Whakatāne too.
"I am quite excited for the future of Vision NZ and the projects we have coming up."
She said throughout their campaign, the saying was always "win or win, we win" as they would continue "transforming lives" and doing "grassroots work" no matter the result.
When asked about her take on Saturday night's results, she said she had hugged Tamati Coffey and congratulated Rawiri Waititi.
Waititi had scored the highest number votes with 9473, however, the margin between himself and Coffey was only 415 votes. Coffey had not conceded as he had confidence in the special votes still coming in.
Tamaki said the special votes could make a difference but she knew how badly the Māori Party had wanted to win the seat back.
"The voice of the people has spoken."
Tamaki said she vowed to continue to lead Vision NZ for another six years and that next election they would come back "even stronger".