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In final speech, Nick Smith apologises for voting against marriage equality, fulfilling promise to son

Outgoing MP Nick Smith has apologised during his valedictory speech for having voted against marriage equality in 2013, after making a promise to his son who told him he was gay three years ago.

"Already at that time I felt my views were wrong," he said today. 

In his last speech in Parliament, Smith said there was "an issue I got wrong".

"The error is all the more personal with my 20 year old son being gay. 

"I want to put on record today my apology to New Zealand's LGBT+ community."

Smith is leaving Parliament after being a National MP since 1990. He abruptly announced his departure from Parliament two weeks ago over what he said were personal and professional reasons, including a Parliamentary Services inquiry into a "verbal altercation" with a staffer. 

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National stalwart Nick Smith promised to do so after his son came out as gay three years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

Talking to 1 NEWS, the National Party stalwart said he really felt he "owes an apology to the LGBT+ community in New Zealand". 

"I voted against gay marriage," he said of the legislation that passed despite his lack of support. 

"My son Logan told me about three years ago he was gay. Already at that time I felt my views were wrong. I gave him a commitment that before I retired from Parliament I would give that apology publicly.

"When Logan first told me, we went out for a meal and he had something important to tell me. I was worried it was something else so when he told me he was gay we had a big laugh and a big hug."

Smith said he wanted to put his apology officially on record. Said in Parliament, it means the apology is on Hansard records. 

Logan said he was never worried about telling his father he was gay.

"I knew he had changed his views already and I knew he has been a supportive father all along the way.

"I think it's just important to demonstrate people can learn and their views can change as an example to other people.

"I'm really proud of him. I think it's just important to demonstrate people can learn and their views can change."

Smith thought a media story was to be published on the verbal altercation, but there was no story published on the matter. National leader Judith Collins says she "certainly did not push" MP Nick Smith to resign. 

"I was disappointed to lose the Nelson seat at the 2020 election after 30 years representing the region," he said in May. "It was working for constituents and advocating for the region that I enjoyed most and I have come to realise that the role as a List MP is just not me.

"Parliamentary Services have been conducting a confidential inquiry into a verbal altercation in my Wellington office last July that has not concluded," he said at the time. 

National leader Judith Collins described Smith as being "incredibly resilient, resourceful person with boundless energy and determination". 

After Winston Peters left Parliament, Smith was the longest continuously serving MP, having been first elected in October 1990 - giving him the title of Father of the House.