A little more than a year and a half on from her election as MP for Whanganui, Harete Hipango sat down with Abe Leach to discuss how she's finding Parliament, the issues she's been dealing with and what she thinks she's achieved.
At times the last year and a half has been "head spinning" for Whanganui's MP and just over halfway through her first term Harete Hipango openly admits "I'm tired".
Shifting into the schedule of an MP takes some time to adjust but it's something Hipango wouldn't change, as she says her duty is to make a difference for the community.
Hipango, who has around 30 years' experience as a lawyer, was elected as an MP for Whanganui in September 2017 for the National Party.
In taking the position Hipango became the first Māori MP to represent the Whanganui electorate.
It was around this time Hipango says she felt one of the biggest achievements of her political career.
"I think probably the standout moment just from a personal reflective position was went I gave my maiden speech, because that really set the tone and the standard of 'where to from here', now that I've embarked on this journey.
"To have the support of my family but also my tribal peoples in the Whanganui community, that was humbling but it was also this enormous sense of expectation around what I'm now about to give duty and service for.
"It's always about service and being able to a difference for the better, for the people in the community."
In March 2018 Hipango picked up National's Māori tourism spokesperson portfolio, a sector she describes as dynamic with huge potential for Whanganui.
"Where we are positioned geographically, the main flow for tourists is Auckland through to Rotorua, and they'll track through the central of the North Island to Wellington and head on south.
"It's about pulling them over. We've got some wonderful stories here in terms of our geography, who we are, our people that we have in the central plateau, and Mt Taranaki through to Whanganui and the Māori links that goes with the mountain to the sea.
"Our tourists are interested in the authenticity of what is it that makes and shapes this nation. A big part of that are the stories that goes with the unique formation of who we are."
Holding the portfolio of course means additional travel duties throughout the country, alongside regular trips within the Whanganui district for her role as MP.
"It's really head spinning stuff because we're moving at such a fast pace.
"It's not a nine to five job, it's seven days. My day starts about 7am and some nights would finish about one, two o'clock in the morning."
Despite the travel schedule, Hipango indicated 2017 was the right time for her to enter politics, with her three children moving into adulthood.
"The timing of me being approached to stand as the candidate for the National Party and then subsequently being elected was fortuitous because it means that I don't have to compromise my time between family and our community.
"Yeah I am tired, but I come home to re-energise and it's lovely."
It's Hipango's experience as a lawyer which she says gives her specialist knowledge when it comes to certain issues before Parliament, in particular the Government's proposal for a legal cannabis market and the National Party's push for compulsory roadside drug testing.
The MP brings up the 2018 Waverley crash, in which a recent coroner's inquest found one of the drivers of a vehicle involved had consumed synthetic drugs prior to driving.
"The evidence clearly came out and we're waiting for the decision in terms of findings of the cause of the accident, but clearly drug impairment was a factor there.
"It's personal to us all because there was profound impact in our community in the loss of life with seven from here in our area.
"Having my practitioner's knowledge working in the area of mental health courts, Family Courts, criminal courts, Youth Courts, and the impact, the detrimental impact, I've seen cannabis addiction, alcohol affliction, all of those we have in our high vulnerability communities and where there's high deprivation as well.
"It frustrates me immensely where there are politicians who are speaking from a textbook basis around 'this is our right, we should have a choice to indulge', and that often comes from a certain level of our community and it's the ones who don't come from those high vulnerability and high deprivation needs, where it becomes an addiction and affliction.
"That's something that I can speak to professionally and personally that probably most MPs couldn't."
When asked about issues Whanganui is facing, Hipango said she had yet to read Whanganui District Council's proposed housing strategy, but said housing was an area of concern in terms of taking on refugees as part of the Government's resettlement programme.
Hipango said Whanganui has seen growth in population but there hasn't been an increase in housing to match that.
"We've got a real stretch, strain, and drain on available housing, and how do we offset and balance that in terms of meeting the needs of our community?
"And then we're opening ourselves up as a community as a resettlement for refugees.
"I'm not saying that we shouldn't have that available for refugee communities and immigrants, but what I am saying is we need to prioritise meeting the needs of our most deprived.
"I am about diversity, helping people, but we've got to get it right first and foremost on our front doorstep."
Although Hipango is unsure exactly when she'll need to start campaigning for the next election as she brings up the chance of a snap election, the Whanganui MP says she plans to hold the position for at least another three terms.
Hipango says she has always seen the first term as a "bedding-in process" but hints she's ready to take her presence to the next level.
"I took heed of some very sound advice from Dame Tariana Turia when I was elected into the role.
"She said 'Harete just take things quietly and at pace, and get to learn your trade really well for the time that you do step into a leadership role within a government position' .
"Coming into this public office has been about me stepping beyond my comfort zone and becoming more public, I can do that when I advocate, but I've always just been quietly there working behind the scenes.
"Now it's stepping forward and working front of the scene and doing what needs to be done to propel the interests of our Whanganui electorate."