National MP Maureen Pugh says lightning strikes were 'out to get me', 'cooked' her brain but 'didn't even hurt'

National MP Maureen Pugh says the first time she was hit by lightning, it didn't even hurt.

While her leader Judith Collins has become a lightning rod for criticism and controversy of late, the West Coast-based list MP revealed earlier this week she is literally a lightning rod, having been struck three times. 

"It is nice to be alive to tell the tale," she told The AM Show on Friday. "Some people aren't quite so lucky."

The first was 20 years ago at a place she and her husband built in a valley at Turiwhate. She later learned it was in the perfect spot to attract lightning strikes, but not until she'd been hit twice and had a third lucky escape, a telephone she was holding being blown right out of her hands. 

"The first one was the worst," she said. "It was when I was running a bath one afternoon and I'd swirled the water around with my hand, so my hand was wet, and as I reached up to turn off a big brass tap that's connected to a whole lot of copper pipe,the lightning hit. It arced between my hand and the tap - about a foot, a foot-and-a-half."

She said there was also a "big explosion" of "bluish white light".

"It did affect me for quite some time - not immediately, and in fact it didn't even hurt at the time. But later on as my arm started going a bit dead, then it started to affect my thinking.

"I went off to the GP and he said, 'It's cooked your brain. It's going to take a while to get over that.' And it did. It took about six weeks before I could string two thoughts together."

The second strike happened when she, with "great timing", went to turn off an "all-metal" stereo during a thunderstorm.

This time it came out the end of my thumb on the other hand - so on the end of my thumb I ended up with about a pinhead-size burn mark with a very intense smell, which I think is me cooking from the inside out. Again I had people here and they were just dumbfounded and weren't quite sure what to do with me. They didn't want to touch me in case I was still alive - with electricity, I mean."

Maureen Pugh, not being struck by lightning.
Maureen Pugh, enjoying a moment of not being struck by lightning. Photo credit: The AM Show

After the third, which happened at a neighbour's house, she said felt "it was out to get me". But she refused to move - speaking to The AM Show via video from the very same house where she was literally cooked. 

"You could ask anyone on the West Coast that question, and they would probably tell you the same thing - there is no better place."

Eventually the power company made some changes which seemed to discourage Zeus from throwing further bolts her way. 

"I do appreciate how fortunate I was, or unfortunate - depends how you look at it."