Grant Robertson exit interview: What he's most proud of

Former Finance Minister and deputy PM Grant Robertson signed off from politics on Wednesday. 

Robertson's been in and around Parliament for more than 20 years, from the Helen Clark era as a staffer to becoming an MP in 2008. 

Sitting down with Newshub ahead of his final speech, he was asked whether 2008 Robertson would be proud of him today.

"I hope so," he responded.

Quizzed on what would make him most proud, the former deputy Prime Minister said: "That I've stuck to my values." 

Robertson could have been Labour Party leader, he stood twice - the first time being openly gay partly stood in the way.  

"It was a factor and there's no denying that," he said. "It's just one of those things that happened - I didn't come into politics to be the leader of the Labour Party." 

But he did come to politics to make change and, by 2017, the fate of that lay in the hands of one man. 

Robertson and Jacinda Ardern watched together with the rest of the country to learn whether they could form a Government. 

Asked what that felt like, Robertson said: "Nerve-wracking... because we didn't know." 

Winston Peters chose Labour. 

So, what's one word Robertson has to describe Peters? 

"Mercurial," Robertson said.  

"It was challenging."  

Peters was the handbrake that stopped his policy dream: a capital gains tax. 

"Of course, I was disappointed," Robertson told Newshub. 

"I obviously still believe there does need to be the reform of the tax system in New Zealand and that will have to happen." 

But the biggest challenge? COVID-19; shutting the borders and locking the country down. For a Finance Minister, that meant shutting the economy down. He pummelled cash into it - into the unknown. 

"We didn't know what the end point was - we didn't know if it would be weeks, months [or] years," said Robertson. 

By the final Auckland lockdown, he admitted people's patience had run out.  

"Our social licence to do what we were doing was definitely ebbing away." 

The pandemic also created his hardest moment - the Parliament occupation. 

Robertson admitted being scared "at times". 

"It's one of the first times that I genuinely thought about myself and my family and got worried about it." 

Now he gets to go and spend time with that family.