Politics

James Shaw at hospital after unprovoked attack

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has been assaulted while walking to work in Wellington, with suggestions his attacker voiced some concerns about the United Nations.

A spokesman for Shaw said he was walking to work in Wellington on Thursday morning when he was approached by a man.

After "a brief exchange", the man grabbed Shaw and punched him several times before two passers-by came to offer assistance.

The spokesman said Shaw had "some cuts and bruises and is a bit shaken as you can imagine".

He had gone to hospital for a precautionary check-up and had given a statement to police about the attack.

The spokesman said the motivation for the attack was currently unclear, and he did not believe there had been any specific mention of Shaw's ministerial or political work.

However, Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker told media that the man was said to have "shouted out things about the United Nations".

"We need to reflect upon what it is that is going on in society that causes people to be so extreme in their reactions to things they disagree with."

Parker said the British government and a select committee in the country had recently criticised "extreme opinion feeding political biases and causing instability amongst some people, which is fed through social media platforms".

"We need to reflect upon what it is that is going on in society that causes people to be so extreme in their reactions to things they disagree with," he said.

Wellington police said a 47-year-old man had been arrested following an assault by the Botanical Gardens, believed to be in relation to the attack on Shaw.

Senior Sergeant Matthew Morris said any witnesses to the attack should call Wellington police on 04 381 2000, or offer information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A number of politicians have already offered their sympathy and support to Shaw in the wake of the attack.

"We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible, we just cannot take that for granted."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media in Ashburton she had spoken to Shaw following the attack, and while he said he was well it was clear that the incident had caught him off-guard.

"We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible, we just cannot take that for granted," Ardern said.

Asked whether security for ministers should be beefed up in the wake of the assault, Ardern said New Zealand had always been proud of the fact that politicians were accessible to the general public.

National's climate change spokesman Todd Muller said he was "stunned" to hear of the assault.

"I hope he recovers quickly and is back working on the climate change issues that I know he cares deeply about."

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said Shaw's colleagues were shocked by the attack and supporting him in the wake of the incident.

"All Kiwis should be able to walk to work in safety," Hughes said.

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