Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett has opened up about the sudden deaths of her brother and best friend while she was young, in an emotional interview with RadioLIVE.
The two had died suddenly within three months of each other, shortly after Ms Bennett fell pregnant at the age of 17.
It was the catalyst for her leaving Taupo, where she spent her teenage years, and moving to Auckland in 1991.
"That changes your entire life. Until then I didn't really know what I was going to do and I didn't care," she told host Ryan Bridge, with tears in her eyes.
"But then that happened and you re-evaluate everything."
Ms Bennett said she felt as though she couldn't stay in Taupo anymore and needed a "fresh start".
"I knew that if I wanted something different, I wasn't going to be able to do it there," she said.
"And in some respects, their deaths gave me the freedom to do it. It gave me courage, anyway."
Part of the struggle was realising her best friend, Christine, who had been a part of her daughter's life since the beginning, was no longer going to be there, Ms Bennett said.
"You miss that."
She gave credit to her grandmother for giving her "strength and conviction", also revealing she believed in something after death, but wouldn't go as far as to call it "reincarnation".
"Is this it? I don't know; I think there's may be something more," she said.
"I'm not sure of the, what you come back as, and that sort of thing, but... sometimes to get through [close losses] you need to believe that there's something bigger and there's something else that's out there."
But she clammed up at one point of the interview; Mr Bridge asked if she had any tattoos and Ms Bennett refused to answer, calling it an "outrageous question".
"Particularly as I'm the acting Prime Minister," she said.