Wellington, March 14, 2019
Climate Change Minister James Shaw has a black eye and lacerations to his face after an attack in Wellington while on his way to work this morning
A spokesperson for Mr Shaw said that he was walking past the Botanical Gardens about 730 am when he was grabbed and struck in the face by an individual, who then took off.
RNZ understands that the man jumped out of a van and was shouting political comments aimed at Mr Shaw personally.
Two members of the public went to Mr Shaw’s aid and called an ambulance. Paramedics checked him out on scene and gave him the all-clear.
Mr Shaw then went to work and attended an Environment Cabinet Committee meeting before heading to hospital for a precautionary check-up.
Police said that a 47-year-old man has been arrested in relation to an assault on Glenmore Street this morning.
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Mr Shaw has given them a detailed statement, and they are asking for any witnesses to come forward.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken to Mr Shaw, who said he was doing fine. But she has encouraged him to take whatever time off he needs to recover.
“My thoughts are with James and also Annabel. When you go into politics in New Zealand you just don’t expect these things to happen, and I know it will be especially challenging for loved ones,” she said.
“We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible – and that’s something we should feel proud of. We are after all, here to serve people. But today’s events really show we cannot take that for granted.
“I think all of us will probably be united in wanting to ensure we have the kind of political environment where everyone can hold their views, but they can do that safely.”
Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard has granted Mr Shaw compassionate leave from Parliament for the meantime.
National’s Climate Change Spokesperson Todd Muller said he hoped for Mr Shaw to recover well, and quickly.
He said he had seen views that this was the “new era in New Zealand politics” but he rejected that completely.
“I don’t think one man’s punch defines a nation’s political discourse. It’s far from that in this country and in this Parliament and indeed in climate change we’re working hard to develop a bipartisan outcome,” Mr Muller said.
“I think everyone will be taking stock around their own personal safety.”
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said she was “focusing on supporting James to rest and get checked.”
Information can be shared anonymously via CrimeStoppers on 0800-555111 or Wellington Police on (04) 3812000.
With additional reporting by Gia Garrick. Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz