In a captivating valedictory speech tonight, Steven Joyce bid farewell to his fellow MPs and to Parliamentary life, with a series of stories and observations from his nine years in government.
But it was his detailing of the life spent with his two children in that time that left the most indelible image, of little time spent at home, of children that didn't know him outside of being a minister, and his constant fear of not being there for his children enough during that period. He choked up, as he concluded his speech, as he moved from daughter Amelia to his eight-year-old autistic son Thomas.
"I have two children, Thomas and Amelia," Joyce told his fellow MPs.
"They’ve known nothing about me except I’ve been a minister for their entire lives. Which is strange because I see myself as quite short term in politics.
"And they know me as leaving at 5.20 every Monday morning before they wake up and coming back Thursday night after they gone to sleep.
"And then on Saturday and Sunday they were used to me sequestering myself outside and reading papers for four or five hours each afternoon of the weekend.
"I have to confess I’ve often worried about the example I’ve been setting them.
"Of course parents travel for work, it’s just the relentless nature of the ministerial job, day in and day out for years on end, and in my case nine.
"And then there were the particularly arduous times, during one such time in 2011, my then four-year-old daughter - there were friends around at the house and she wandered up to the TV and said – and I had a video of the Rena on – and she turned around and said to everybody, ‘that’s where my daddy lives’.
"Tommy doesn’t say anything, literally. He’s what they call non-verbally autistic. He’s-eight years-old, doesn’t haven’t any vocabulary at all, but I know he likes having his dad around …he tells me with his laugh …and with his eyes.
"And now he’s going to have dad around some more."