National Party MP Judith Collins is one of "the most interesting people" in New Zealand politics, a political commentator has claimed, and she's a more complex person that she's given credit for.
Magic Talk's Sunday Cafe political panel spoke briefly about Collins and her new memoir Pull No Punches which is coming out this week, and commentator Ben Thomas said he's "amping" and can't wait to read her book.
"Judith Collins is one of the most interesting people in New Zealand politics. I think she's a much more complex character than she gets given credit for a lot of the times - that sort of cartoon 'crusher' persona."
He said during "ponytail-gate", when then-Prime Minister Sir John Key was accused and later admitted to pulling a waitress' ponytail at a cafe in 2015, many National MPs circled around him and came to his defence - but not Collins.
"Judith Collins on the backbenches said [it was] very inappropriate and basically scalded the Prime Minister about his judgement. That takes a lot of guts, I think, and shows that she really is someone who stands on principle," Thomas said.
Former radio host Mitch Harris recalled to the panel an hour-long interview he held with Collins, where she was a "really pleasant and interesting" person to talk with.
"It was better than I expected. She's quite an open and engaging person, Judith Collins, and so I enjoyed that."
During an interview on TVNZ's Q and A on Sunday about her memoir, Collins said Key "threw me under the bus" after she was forced to resign weeks before the election.
She was accused in 2014 of a conflict of interest with Oravida bosses - a company where her husband was a director - and a Chinese border official.
The company supplies China with New Zealand-made food and milk, and she said the meetings with Oravida ended up being about meat exports instead of its business. She also had Key's permission to meet with the company.
But she ended up feeling "thrown under the bus" by Key when he said he couldn't remember the discussion the pair had held.
"I'd like to take him at his word he genuinely forgot, but later in the afternoon, he felt he could remember something," she told Q and A.
During the Dirty Politics saga in the lead up to the 2014 election, Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater released private third party emails that suggested she might have been trying to smear Serious Fraud Office chief executive Adam Feeley. She had all her ministerial positions and 'honourable' title removed, but was later cleared of any wrongdoing in the Dirty Politics allegations
She said she felt "terrible" when her title was stripped, but was unsure why it was taken away.
"[Key is a] far more ruthless person than myself."
He later apologised and her title was restored.
She added she was unsure if Key ever liked her even though she "certainly" liked him.
"I thought he was a very capable person… He's not my friend. He never was my friend, but I could contact him."