Nick Smith's gay son 'proud' he used final speech in Parliament to apologise to LGBT+ community

The so-called "father of the house" is out, with Nick Smith - Parliament's longest serving MP - delivering his farewell speech on Thursday.

After a triumphant and tumultuous 31-year political career, the outgoing National MP's final march on Parliament was with his son Logan - and some of his final words inside were for him too.

"There is an issue I got wrong," he said. "In 2013 I voted against gay marriage. The error is all the more personal with my 20-year-old son being gay. I wish to put on record today my apology to New Zealand’s LGBT+ community."

Smith voted against civil unions and same-sex marriage, but about three years ago, Logan told him he was gay.

He made Logan a promise. 

"By going public, by giving an apology, by standing bravely beside my son Logan, my hope is that we can squeeze out those last remnants of prejudice that the gay community still face," he said.

Logan says he's proud of his father.

"I'm just really proud of it and just really proud that he's manned up and acknowledged he got it wrong in the past."

Smith racked up 31 years in politics and was forced to resign a year earlier than planned.

"Sometimes you don't exit at your time of choosing but I'm very comfortable at midnight to become a private citizen," he said.

He'd been warned a scandal was about to break, but the story never dropped. Smith was asked by Newshub if he felt he was misled, but wouldn't comment.

The leak which never leaked was a recording of a verbal altercation between him and a staffer. He "totally rejected" any allegation he was a bully, but wouldn't say if he regretted any of his actions with staff in the past.

Nicholas Rex Smith came to Parliament a fresh faced 25-year-old. A passionate electorate MP for Nelson, he didn't always please everyone. 

There were court cases, defamation, contempt of court. Smith was also National's deputy leader for a short time but took stress leave and lost the job after just 19 days. 

He's held 15 ministerial portfolios - conservation, his favourite; ACC, his achilles heel - resigning after using his influence to help a long-time friend.

Smith was part of a gang of young National MPs, including Bill English, called the Brat Pack. English wasn't the only former Prime Minister who came to fare him well though, with Jim Bolger and Dame Jenny Shipley also in attendance.

Shipley described him as a "feisty young thing with miles of ideas". He's still feisty, but a little less young after a billion seconds in politics.

"Bar a few thousand, it's been a blast and an enormous privilege," he said.

The father of the house - over and out.