Judith Collins has heaped praise on Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, one of the National leader's "favourites on the other side", who she says is often a target of jealousy.
Speaking to the head of Essential Talent Shaun O'Neill in an interview published online, Collins revealed that 26-year-old Swarbrick is a reflection of her younger self and that the young politician's high-profile is the envy of others.
"This may surprise you but I get on very well with Chlöe and she gets along well with me. I look at someone like her and think she reminds me a bit of myself when I was in my 20s," Collins said of the new Auckland Central MP.
"I don't mean that in a patronising way - it's just the fact is that I'm not going to remind her of herself because I'm older than her."
Collins, 61, said even though she thinks most of Swarbrick's views are "bizarre", she respects the Green MP because she is someone who "believes in what she says" and has gained the public's trust by standing firm on issues important to her.
"She is someone whose sense of purpose and her beliefs give her - I think - a lot of kudos from the public because people generally give you respect for saying what you mean and meaning what you say - and she does," Collins said.
"I've occasionally said she's one of my favourites on the other side and it obviously hasn't hurt her career," the National leader added with a grin.
"I'd also say that sometimes she gets the meanest reaction from people on her own side who get very, very jealous because she is someone who does get a lot of media attention and people know her name and there can often be that sort of jealousy."
Swarbrick has also expressed respect for Collins.
In an interview with Magic Talk last week, host Ryan Bridge pushed back on the Greens MP's assertion that people on the "left of politics" are "more willing to forgive", with Bridge pointing to abuse Collins often receives on social media.
"I agree with you," Swarbrick replied. "I absolutely agree with you and I would stand up against anybody who is saying those things, and I haven't used any of those things against Judith."
Swarbrick said the public is often unaware of the good relationship some MPs have despite their different political ideologies.
"I actually think you'll find, interestingly enough, if you want to talk about the comradery behind the scenes, is that Judith Collins and Golriz Ghahraman - my colleague - actually have quite a good relationship."
In her interview with O'Neill, Collins also talked about the respect she has for former Prime Minister and Labour leader Helen Clark, despite their opposing views.
"I think there is a shared respect that tends to build up over time, and I've seen it with people who've been in positions of responsibility and leadership where once the rivalry is gone... people do tremendously respect the effort that the other puts in and what they bring to the table," Collins said.
"I have been reasonably vocal at times saying that I particularly admired Helen Clark - not that I admired any of her policies, but I admired her courage and her conviction, even though I didn't agree with it."
Collins also admires former Prime Minister and National leader Dame Jenny Shipley who became the country's first female Prime Minister in 1997 after rolling then-leader Jim Bolger. Clark became the country's first elected female leader in 1999.
"I always liked Jenny Shipley too," Collins said. "Why? Because Jenny has always been someone who's given a lot back to other politicians of all different political beliefs who've asked her for advice on how to handle themselves or a situation."
As for whether she could ever be friends with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after a whirlwind election campaign and several fiery debates, Collins said she expects they will always be civil towards each other.
"I think we'll never be close but... even near the end of the campaign it felt like she wanted to engage a little bit more personally, so that's fine."