What an interesting six months it's been for Simon Bridges.
Catapulted to the top of the National Party and into the unenviable position as Leader of the Opposition, life's certainly changed for the ambitious politician – and his family.
Opening their home and hearts to the Weekly, Simon and his wife Natalie offer a candid and intimate look inside their private world, and the parents of Emlyn (6) Harry (4) and eight-month-old Jemima, admit the events of this year have meant it hasn't all been easy sailing.
Chatting to us the same week as what's been dubbed 'Limogate' – the unauthorised leak of his expenses and the ensuing furore around parliamentary enquiries – Simon (41) tells the Weekly that while his new gig has definitely thrown him some curve balls, the biggest challenge of his new normal is still juggling his family and his career.
"It's about making sure you're doing both and not just one well, because that would be an epic fail in either direction. It's about making sure, actually, that in addition to getting around the country and doing politics of New Zealand, there's also time for my family and my three precious children. I don't want to get out of politics one day and feel like I won the battle but lost the war."
Following an intensive four-month tour around the country in an attempt to woo over voters – and a jazzy promotional video which featured him playing the drums, a look we decided to emulate in our exclusive photos – Simon reckons he's in a good place to lead the Nats into the next election. He is, also, Natalie (35) admits, and as a former journalist, there are aspects of it that are tougher for her to get her head around.
"Suddenly, I'm not married to a person who's looking after his portfolios; I'm married to someone who's leading a party…"
"The biggest one," interjects Simon.
"Yes, and it's quite funny," continues Natalie, "I'm a news junkie, and I've always been one of those weirdos who is a mad Newstalk listener. I used to hear Simon's name on there sometimes, but now I hear it all the time. Sometimes it's really nice to listen to, sometimes it's not! It invades in a way it hasn't before."
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