After losing the Whanganui seat in last week's election, the now former MP Harete Hipango says she will take some time before deciding her next move.
She talks to Mike Tweed about her term in Parliament.
Harete Hipango believes she gave her time in Parliament her best shot.
"And there's nothing that can be asked apart from giving one's best," Hipango said.
When long-serving Whanganui MP Chester Borrows retired in 2017 the National Party's Hipango became the electorate's first Māori female MP, beating Labour's Steph Lewis by 1706 votes.
But just three years later the pair squared off again in an entirely different political landscape - this time Hipango losing to Lewis by 6821 votes on the preliminary count.
Hipango, who during her time in Parliament was Opposition spokeswoman for Crown-Māori relations, Māori tourism and shadow attorney general, said that because she spent a significant amount of time in Parliament in Wellington, she wasn't able to be on "the ground" in Whanganui as much as she would have liked.
"I didn't have the benefit of a full six month run of campaigning, and I was still doing my job up till the day of the election," she said.
"Tireless work goes on behind the scenes to ensure a community reaps the benefits that it deserves. If one is not on the home front, it often means one is working, in fact fighting, thanklessly on the front lines, taking the hits and associated hurt as well.
"I didn't have the advantage of time on my side [to campaign] in the way that the opposition did. They had that opportunity, and they took it.
"It is what it is though, and that's called life."
Hipango said her time as an MP had "taken a toll" on her family and that she was the target of "particularly nasty comments" on local social media pages.
"What's interesting is that the public is always very critical, and that goes with the territory, but it can be unreasonable and it can be unnecessarily condemning," she said.
"If it's targeted at me that's fine, I can deal with it, but no matter how you try and protect your family from public life, you can't.
"That's probably the one regret that I do have, is not being able to protect my family from some of the vitriol that has been aimed towards me."
Hipango said there was "no doubt" in her mind that Judith Collins should remain as the leader of the National Party, even after the results of the general election.
"There was nobody else who could pick up a poisoned chalice, which is what she got, and provide some measure of an antidote just to survive.
"It wasn't Judith's actions that lead to those election results. We rode on the Covid wave of our Prime Minister's popularity and actions, and there were a few individuals [in the National Party caucus] who put their own self interests and motivations before the National Party."
Hipango said that something she was most proud of over her term was "surviving", as well helping to secure funding for the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment and Whanganui Port projects.
"I'm resolute in the fact that I successfully influenced and worked so very hard from the Opposition back-bench, forging and securing political cross party relationships with many MPs and ministers which aided in securing the significant funding for the Sarjeant Gallery.
"The Sarjeant redevelopment will create pathways and avenues for Whanganui's economic opportunities in the tourism, hospitality, cultural, arts, heritage, training and employment sectors, as will the Whanganui Port re-development, another project I advocated and worked on.
"As well as that there have been roading projects [the Parapara, Waitotara/Nukumaru Rd], social, health, housing and justice issues."
Hipango said that when she first became a candidate for the National Party before the 2017 general election, a number of people had told her "oh, we always thought you would have been Labour".
"I told them that my values are aspirational and being able to work hard and achieve, not being dependent on the state and locked into that form of oppression," she said.
"If we talk politics, the difference between Labour and National is not just philosophical but practical as well.
"What attracted me to National was the message of empowering and enabling our community. With Labour it's more about giving out and affording a level of dependency.
"Of course there's a role for that, but not ad infinitum."
It had been "a privilege to serve our community as the member of Parliament", Hipango said.
"I acknowledge my staff, especially those who persevered the challenges and stayed the course, my sincere gratitude.
"I wish our communities in the Whanganui electorate well, because we're going into some tough times ahead, and I hope for them to get through those challenges.
"To Steph Lewis and her husband Rob Carr, I wish them well in the journey ahead."
"I will continue to find ways to serve our community and country as I, and my whānau, my ancestors, have done all our lives."